Of all the questions surrounding the sex abuse case at Penn State, there's one that I keep coming back to. Why didn't child protective services spot the pedophile allegedly lurking inside former coach Jerry Sandusky years ago? Isn't that their job?
After all, while Sandusky was allegedly abusing young football players, he and wife Dottie Sandusky were adopting and fostering kids left and right. The system was trusting a man who seems to be a very bad dude. And why not? He wasn't just a coach at The Second Mile; he'd founded the charity to help at-risk kids by introducing them to football. On the surface it screamed "this guy is good for kids."
But when people are allowed to take the fragile kids of the foster system into their homes, what's on the surface isn't enough. These kids have already suffered the indignity of being removed from their homes, and the person entrusted with their care has to be above reproach. In a country riddled with CPS cases that make the people at these protective agencies look overworked at best, like complete buffoons at worst, the allegations that Sandusky was abusing young boys may rank up there as one of their classic failures.
How did a guy like Jerry Sandusky adopt six kids? How did he become a foster father to many more?
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I can't help wondering if the system saw his work with The Second Mile and made assumptions about his character. Yes, Sandusky made it a point to work with children. But what do we know about the classic molester? That's what he (or she) does. They buy the house next to the playground. They become the Scout master. They ingratiate themselves into the world of children.
If the allegations against him prove true, Sandusky was a hypocrite. He pretended to help kids in order to get close to them. He helped them to hurt them.
That isn't to say, of course, that everyone who works with kids is suspect. There are millions of adults who are involved in the lives of kids every day, everywhere who are doing it for the right reasons. But when one of those people is adopting and fostering kids out of the system, their particular motivation should certainly be investigated thoroughly. A child's life is at stake, and no stone should be left unturned.
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Even if he didn't hurt his own kids (and trust me, I'm hoping for their sakes that he did not!), the fact is those children were sent into the home of a man who obviously was not properly vetted by the system.
Have you had any experience with the foster care/adoption vetting process?