Monday, December 19, 2011

Penn State's Culture of Loyalty

by R.M. Schneiderman in The Daily Beast

The accusations against Curley and Schultz reveal an undeniable repugnance. And while it is easy to understand why Paterno—who has since been fired—and McQueary would initially report the incident in the shower to their superiors, it is mind-boggling to think that they would remain silent when they realized that nothing was being done about it.

Like the Catholic Church and other institutions beset by scandals, Penn State appears to have been plagued by a culture that valued loyalty over justice.

Preserving the image of the institution—an economic juggernaut, whose vaunted football team pumped an estimated $59 million into the local economy every home game—seems to have been more important than protecting yet another child from an alleged serial predator.

Did the culture of loyalty also allow abuse to flourish when Dr. Jack Graham, Neal Jeffrey and others at Prestonwood Baptist Church fired a confessed child molester but failed to report him to the police as required by law? They allowed John Langworthy to quietly move on to other unsuspecting schools and churches to immerse himself in a career teaching music to kids of all ages...for 22 years until his arrest and indictment in September of 2011 in Mississippi on 8 counts of felony gratification of lust with 5 victims, boys between the ages of 10-13.

Did the culture of loyalty also allow abuse to flourish at Second Baptist Church in Houston with Chad Foster? with Eddie Struble?

Police know of the names of 7 other victims of Chad Foster. Detectives said, so far, all of the tips have been tied to girls at Second Baptist Church. "There's some people we've heard want to come forward, but haven't done so yet," Spurger of the Precinct 4 Constable's office said.  If you need to report a case, call 281-401-6228.

Never forget the lessons learned from Penn State.

Our love for children and our desire to protect them, to help them to grow into healthy adults, are the primary reasons why all of us were so shaken and saddened by the recent allegations of sexual abuse and molestation at Penn State University.

Many of us in the Lehigh Valley have long-standing ties to Penn State as alumni or parents of attending students, as fans of the football team, or as admirers of the revered coach who has been a champion of integrity and educational values for so many years.
 We are incredulous as to how so many in positions of authority could turn a blind eye to the alleged, unimaginable actions of a former football coach who has been accused of being a sexual predator of innocent children, while at the same time funding and being the face of an organization to help at-risk children.
 Was the priority at Penn State to win football games above protecting vulnerable, innocent children?

As Christmas decorations are going up, as radio stations play the music of the season, as plans are being made, and as children prepare Christmas lists with joy and anticipation, what is the lesson for us adults to learn from this incomprehensible tragedy? Let me offer some suggestions:

If you are ever in a situation where you witness or suspect sexual abuse of a child, step up to protect that child (even, God forbid, in the very confines of the church). Intervene aggressively at the moment, if necessary, to separate the child from the abuser.
Do not pass the information up the chain of command and to someone else; call the police immediately!

Many at Penn State proclaim they did "the right thing" legally, informing their superior.
But no one ever stood up for a child victim by alerting police with a single phone call over the course of many years. They clearly did not do enough. No one took the moral responsibility to do what was necessary to protect the children who, authorities say, were so brutally victimized.

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