If you were on any social media site last night, you saw that stream blow up when it was announced that Penn State football coach, Joe Paterno, and Penn State president, Graham Spanier, were fired, after it came to light that many in administrative and power positions at Penn State did nothing to stop Jerry Sandusky from continuing his abuse of small boys.
A friend of mine, a new mother, emailed me yesterday, asking, “How do you not just fall down, paralyzed in fear for your girls when you hear news stories like what is coming out from Penn State?” Like me, many parents went home over the past few days and hugged their kids a little harder, and told them we love them a few more times than usual.
Because this story is not about a football legacy. It’s not about a scandal or a cover up. It’s not about misguided Penn State students who are overly proud of their school. It’s not about idiot celebrities. It’s about eight boys, and possibly many more, who were hurt and petrified and stolen of their childhoods, and adults who did nothing to stop it. Adults, who should have protected those children and stopped it from happening again, did nothing.
I don’t know any of the victims names, and I truly hope they don’t come out. They do not need to be assaulted again by the media. But we have conveniently forgotten about them in most of the stories. So, let me help you think of them as the people who were victimized, the children who were victimized. Like I said, I don’t know their names, but imagine with me for a minute.
Michael didn’t do anything wrong. Marcus didn’t do anything wrong. Jeff didn’t do anything wrong. Zachary didn’t do anything wrong. Jacob didn’t do anything wrong. Ryan didn’t do anything wrong. Tony didn’t do anything wrong.
Eight boys, most likely wide-eyed with excitement about being mentored by a Penn State coach, were victimized.
And here is what I do know:
Sandusky did something wrong. McQueary did something wrong. Curley did something wrong. Schultz did something wrong. Spanier did something wrong. And Paterno did something wrong.
My heart goes out to the campus who is trying to rise above this, to the parents trying to help their children heal, and to those boys, who expected more from adults who should have protected them and who deserved to be treated like the amazing people I hope they become.