Over the years, I’ve heard horror stories about priests or trusted coaches charged with sexually abusing boys, and the abuse was ignored and/or covered up by those in positions of authority. As a mother of two boys, I cannot imagine how anyone witnesses such abuse, or hears about it firsthand, and then refuses to act to help kids.
Here are 5 things to think about when such tragedies occur:
5. Charges of abuse are never the first of its kind. We’ve heard it all again and again. From the beginning, the creeps at Penn State took their cues on how to handle this situation from the Catholic Church. When people are deified, whether in sports or religion, they believe they can do whatever they want.
Remember the Boston Red Sox and a similar scandal a few decades back? Donald Fitzpatrick, a clubhouse manager for the team, was charged with sexually abusing at least twelve young boys. When allegations surfaced, Tom Yawkey, Red Sox owner, protected Fitzpatrick and refused to get rid of him.
Arrogance and violence go hand in hand with organized sports, so when professional athletes are arrested for victimizing women and animals, is it any surprise that some of them hurt children as well?
When we take fallible human beings and bestow upon them a godlike status, let’s no longer pretend the consequences aren’t devastating. Men in sports, or a priest’s robe, are not deities. They are people, like everyone else, and the extraordinary power they are given does harm to everyone in their path.
Remember Penn State students, rioting over Paterno’s firing? They weren’t angry about child rape. They weren’t angry that Paterno didn’t do much of anything to stop the abuse. They were angry that he was fired as a result.
Perhaps you need to live outside Happy Valley to know that a) Scrapple isn’t a food group and b) Paterno should have been arrested and charged with a crime for not going to the police.
4. Let’s stop saying victimized boys were molested or fondled. Those young boys were raped. To say otherwise is dismissive and insulting, like saying the Nazisdetained some Jews. Honor the victims by telling the sad, awful, and horrible truth. We owe them that.
3. If the victims were girls, this stories might have ended differently.
Can you imagine anyone seeing a girl sodomized and not raising hell? We need to get to the reasons why grown men don’t act on behalf of young boys.
2. Homophobia might be at least partly to blame.
Sometimes the locker room seems like the last safe place for public slurs against gay people, besides the set of a Brett Ratner movie. A 2009 survey showed that sports reporters believe homophobia is disturbingly prevalent in sports, especially among old-school jocks.
Perhaps these crimes are so shocking and shameful to the grown men who knew about them, they allowed themselves to be scared into a submissive silence. That needs to end. Let’s demystify homosexuality, encourage understanding and acceptance, rather than just tolerance, and refrain from using homophobic slurs. This would lead to a better world for everyone, and a safer one for kids.
1. Parents can use these opportunities to educate their children.
Pedophiles often go after young children who come from troubled homes, are left alone, and are in desperate need of love and attention. I don’t give a good goddamn how busy you are – keep a keen eye on your kids.
Let’s learn from this. That’s the least we can do.