Sandusky is very much responsible for his actions. But wait a minute. How about all the others who knew about the abuse and kept it secret so as not to jeopardize the good name of the college and the money that would no doubt be lost if the football coach was found to be a child abuser in trouble? Should they be held responsible as well? And how about all those that suspected something was wrong? Where do we draw the line?
We often parrot the phrase, “Our children are our greatest asset for the future.” But do we really believe it? The law says we must report suspected as well as known child abuse. Much of the time we don’t. Why? Because often the consequences seem too high. We may be shunned, belittled, even loose our jobs, as might well have happened in the Sandusky case. The abuser may be wealthy and sue us or be a prominent person, well liked in the community and then what?
Ultimately we are all responsible for our actions or inactions, and we must live with our choices regardless what happens for good or ill. But most of all we will have to face ourselves in the long run. Can we live with what we have done or not done?
Statistics indicate that some of the children Sandusky abused will probably have severe PTSD in the future and the abuse may ruin their lives as it did so many of the sexually abused clients I saw.
Here is a short true story from my practice. A beautiful, intelligent, girl of ten told her mother that her father was touching her inappropriately and the mother came to me. I reported it to Social Services and we interviewed the child. The father was a man who owned much of the community— banks, hotels etc.— and was incredibly influential in politics.
The social worker and I were supoenaed to testify at the court case. At the trial the mother’s hired lawyers who were supposed to come from Salt Lake City never showed up. I can only guess why. The child took one look at her father and retracted her statement and the judge reprimanded the mother, the social worker, and me, then gave the man sole custody of the child.
And here is the ending. Four years later the mother returned to see me. According to her the father had taken the daughter to Arizona and by the time the child was 14 she was on the Tucson streets as a prostitute and addicted to drugs. But by this time the mother had no money left to fight for custody. And all she could do is cry.
Let’s do what we can, so this doesn’t happen to any of our children.