Scandals Involving Kids Teach Moms to Protect All Children, Not Just Their Own

Penn StateAs the mother of two young children, I've been deeply saddened and sickened by the Penn State/Jerry Sandusky/Joe Paterno scandal. One of the worst parts, as far as I'm concerned, is the fact that key people knew about it, but essentially did nothing to protect not just the boy who was allegedly molested by Sandusky in a Penn State locker room, but also other children who might come into contact with the football team's former defensive coordinator.

How could people -- how could parents -- have failed to take action to protect children in such a situation? As decent human beings, but even more so as parents, we understand that every adult has an obligation not just to protect our own children, but all children.

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Two quotes in an article in today's New York Times, in which the Penn State University board of trustees explained how they came to fire not just the university's president, Graham B. Spanier, but also Paterno, its long-time, legendary football coach, underscore this very point.

Here's Penn State trustee Kenneth C. Frazier, the chief executive at Merck (and a father of two), on Paterno's decision not to go to police after an assistant coach told him he had seen Sandusky sexually assaulting a 10-year-old boy the Penn State showers:

To me, it wasn’t about guilt or innocence in a legal sense ... It was about these norms of society that I’m talking about: that every adult has a responsibility for every other child in our community. And that we have a responsibility not to do the minimum, the legal requirement. We have a responsibility for ensuring that we can take every effort that’s within our power not only to prevent further harm to that child, but to every other child.

Thank god someone with the power to take action (albeit belatedly) felt this way. And then there's this from another trustee, Stephanie Nolan Deviney, a partner at the law firm Fox Rothschild (and a mother), who said before she left home for the meeting in which the board decided to terminate Paterno, she went into her 7-year-old son's bedroom to kiss him goodbye: "I thought of the mothers of all those boys in the presentment," those who Sandusky had been accused of molesting, Deviney told the Times. "And I thought about what they must feel when they kiss their sons good night."

Oof. I know. I'm crying, too. But this serves as a reminder of how important it is for us parents to do what's needed (even when it's tough, controversial, or unpopular) to protect our own kids, our friends' kids and kids' friends -- and even (or perhaps especially) children we may not even know. As parents, they are all our responsibility. Once we have children, we have more kids than we ever realized.

Do you feel parents have a responsibility to protect all children, not just their own?

 

Image via daveynin/Flickr

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