Penn State is a mirror of the culture at large. Penn State is a family. In a family the adults have the responsibility for the protection and betterment of children or younger adults. No different at an institution. The adults are charged with developing trust as they impart wisdom and model values that make for the betterment of the family at large.
Sexual Abuse is perceived by the culture as the isolated behavior of deviants with mental
illness. The shame of the subject eliminates it from public discussion. The perception is that it is limited in scope. The truth is that this is not about perverts lurking in the bushes in forest preserves. When the Jerry Sandusky’s of the world are exposed the society is forced to confront the issue. Once again the truth is that there are over 50 million survivors of childhood sexual abuse in this country. The truth is that nearly half of the abuse occurs in families away from public scrutiny. Perpetrated by the adults that are entrusted with the protection of children be it in a nuclear family, a school family, or
a church family. The evil nature of this is that the ones trusted are the perpetrators and the ones violated believe they are to blame for the abuse. Both suffer from debilitating shame and cower in silence. The thought of the evil invokes shame in the community…the result…the fantasy that it doesn’t exist. Therefore we can just pretend it isn’t there and it will go away.
What about all those victims? Their lives, their families lives, their communities lives will all be affected not for a few days, but for the rest of their lives. Multiply that by millions. We as a society have neglected and continue to neglect the survivors. Graduate school counseling programs across the country do not have a single class in their curriculums for recovery of sexual abuse. Seminaries, enforcement academies all fail to accept the truth.
Maybe Penn State will be a start. A new beginning to gather the courage to go beyond the
ignorance of denial. Courage to embrace the millions of wounded and begin to dialogue on the need for long-term healing. Courage to confront evil with the hope of truth.