This Penn State mess has made me feel physically ill. I'm not sure why this particular child abuse situation has been so upsetting to me. I've certainly had my own personal experiences with a monster (The Asshole) which still gifts me with the occasional nightmare and I have worked as a counselor with children and families who have had terrible experiences. I think what bothers me most about this situation is that opportunities existed for people to step in, to stop the abuse, and nobody did anything.
How could you not do something?
How could anyone be complicit in the abuse of a child?
It is bad enough in those situations when the abuse is going on and nobody knows or the signs are so vague (until, in hindsight, they are screamingly clear). To have the abuse happen in front of your face and not do something...if someone was on fire in front of you and you weren't the one who lit the fire, would you merely yell "Fire!" and then shrug and walk away, telling yourself, "Well, I didn't start the fire and I told someone"?
It just breaks my heart. I've read two very good posts about this - http://www.amalah.com/amalah/2011/11/we-are.html and http://www.37days.com/2011/11/stop-abdicating-the-responsibility-for-your-own-humanity-the-penn-state-tragedy-1.html - and have been relieved and reassured that others feel like I do. This nonsense I see on the news about these idiot college students protesting the firing of their beloved football coach ... like football matters more than a child ... a human being. So misguided.
J. and I have been talking about this for the last several days and when he first explained to me what it was all about (because I hear "football" on the news and automatically tune out - I mean, really, who gives a fuck?), my first response was that it didn't matter that the coach had done what was "legally required" - as a human being you have an ethical requirement to look out for others who are being harmed, especially and above all, children. Children are innocent and vulnerable and if we, as adults, won't look out for them, who will?
Our son is due in March and I don't know how I'm ever going to leave him alone with someone, other than my husband, until he 25. SohelpmeGod, if anyone were to ever hurt my child, I don't know how I could let that person live.
I have a pretty good sense of distrust of other people - in part because of being hurt by others and in part because I think I was born with a cautious and suspicious nature that provides me with some kind of radar about creeps. These antennae have always been present, even before I was ever exposed to the horrible things people can do to each other. I think it is just part of my make-up. That may be part of the reason that my social/personal circle is so small. I don't trust easily and I don't tolerate jerks, sickos, or stupid people.
I hate that the Penn State lesson has come at the sacrifice of children and hope that this lesson does not go unlearned. We must ALL be responsible for doing something.