It’s particularly topical right now, because this past Tuesday Jerry Sandusky, the former Penn State football coach who was recently convicted on 45 counts of rape, abuse and assault, was sentenced to from 30 – 60 years in prison. Thanks to the courage of eight boys, who were willing to come forward; who were willing to take him on, despite his fame. And who were willing to re-live their painful memories for a judge, a jury, a packed courtroom and the world to hear.
Thanks, also, to twelve equally brave jurors, who were ready and willing to look beyond Jerry Sandusky the football hero, to Jerry Sandusky the predator. To Jerry Sandusky, the pedophile. To Jerry Sandusky, the monster, who preyed on young, disadvantaged, under-privileged boys.
To the Jerry Sandusky who is so sick and twisted, he founded a charitable organization that conveniently provided him with his victims.
What I think is most significant about this case, is not simply that justice was served, as critically important as that is. As long overdue as it is. It’s that, due to its high profile nature, people the world over have finally been forced to acknowledge the fact that abuse is going on, all around us, all the time. And not just in the poorest communities, either. It’s happening in some of our finest institutions and neighbourhoods. It can no longer be ignored. We can no longer bury our heads in the sand.
Like Joe Paterno, two Penn State administrators and the University President did. They knew what was going on. And they ignored it, in the name of football. It is incomprehensible to me, how someone could do that; and live with themselves. And what’s even more incomprehensible is how any decent, honest, loving, law-abiding human being could object to the statue of Joe Paterno being removed from the University campus. How?
The sad truth is, we really have no idea just how pervasive abuse of all kinds is, in our society. Recently I had my eyes opened. A good friend, and former colleague told me, several months ago, that he has been the victim of repeated physical and sexual abuse. In all the years we’d known each other, I had no clue. To help others, to make sure no one else ever has to suffer the way he did, he has started a foundation in the U.S., with the purpose of stopping abuse. He shared some statistics with me, that still have me shaking my head, in disbelief:
- In the U.S., 1 out of 6 women will be sexually molested during her lifetime.
- In the U.S., 8 out of 24 students will be physically or sexually abused before they graduate from high school.
- In the U.S., in a block of 80 homes, 20 women are physically abused on a regular basis.
I find that absolutely staggering. And these numbers don’t account for seniors, or men, who are physically and sexually abused. Nor do they account for those who are verbally abused, emotionally abused, mentally abused or financially abused. And I’ll bet that the numbers are not a lot different where I live. Or where you live.
A judge and a jury have taken care of Jerry Sandusky. A judge and a jury will deal with those who turned their backs, instead of coming forward. Joe Paterno is in God’s hands, and courthouse, now.
But what happens next is up to us. We must become vigilant. We must listen. We must create a society that gives victims a voice. We must show them that we care. We must become intolerant. We must send a message to all abusers that they can no longer hide behind their fame, their stature, their positions of authority, their power, their threats or even their physical strength.
We need to let them know that we will find them. And we will prosecute them. And we will find them guilty. And they will be punished. They need to know we will be relentless. That we don’t care how long it takes, or how daunting the task. So please, click on the link I’ve provided above and check out my friend’s foundation. Take the pledge to help put an end to abuse; and contribute if you can.
And as for Jerry Sandusky, I can’t honestly say I’d be sorry if he found himself in the shower with some of his prison mates. Sometimes an eye for an eye is the only way justice is truly served.