Are adolescent sports and community-based organizations the harvesting grounds for paedophiles, and why one reader believes that there is a special place in hell for Joe Paterno
Thank you for your comment Ron. The results of a UK study will certainly not make you feel any better in that the study found that 52% of children were sexually abused in community-based organisations. These included sports and voluntary groups and also private tuition classes.
According to the study’s author, Bernard Gallagher, from the University of Huddersfield, “reporting is an issue that has to be addressed,” adding that “Sometimes, sad to say, they (being witnesses to the abuse) don’t want to bring their organisation into disrepute and they are prepared to sacrifice children as a result.”
my response to a comment suggesting that there is a special place in hell for Joe Paterno because of his silence regarding the alleged Sandusky abuses as outlined in the November 12th article “Is Paterno as guilty as Sandusky? What may have really happened to an honourable man caught up in a predator’s web“
I can still remember the story of Rabbit Hanson (no relation as I am Hans-en as opposed to Hans-on), who was a police officer and had over many years built a reputation as a friend of minor-aged athletes through his active involvement in the city’s amateur sports scene.
Everyone liked the Rabbit, at least this was the public’s perception. However, and similar to the point that was resoundingly made with the recent Penn State scandal, when Hanson was arrested in 1978 for sodomizing young boys how many people like Paterno and company with Sandusky, had either known or suspected that something was amiss but chose not to say anything?
The next obvious question is simply this, why would those closest to the situation not say or do something that could have put an end to the cycle of abuse perpetrated by the Sandusky’s and Hanson’s of the world?
As I had suggested in the above referenced November 12th post, the silence that had surrounded and shrouded the Penn State scandal, had more to do with protecting both the school and its football program’s reputation, and obviously not Sandusky himself.
If you are to accept the Gallagher study’s findings, then perhaps the Hanson abuses were also hidden from public disclosure through a like-minded sense of misguided loyalty. While not justifiable it is at least a marginally better alternative to apathy. However, and regardless of the motives, with both Sandusky and Hanson as well as the far to numerable examples of abuse to which one could refer, silence is inexcusable.
I mean think about it for a moment, you have an individual who as a police officer is in a position of public trust who also generously donates his time to youth causes including amateur sports teams. While it is hard to imagine the unimaginable under this scenario, it is equally difficult to accept that despite this outward demonstration of civic mindedness, someone on the Winnipeg Police Force was not suspicious of this façade, let alone those persons with whom Hanson volunteered. No doubt that having to be the one or ones to blow the proverbial whistle on a purported pillar of the community must involve a certain degree of courage, it is still inconceivable that as pointed out in the study people are prepared to sacrifice children so as not to bring their organisation into disrepute.
A logic or reasoning that would place a child’s welfare in a secondary position to protecting an organization’s reputation – even a police force or revered educational institution, is so obviously flawed that it requires no further discussion or clarification. Yet in the majority of cases, spanning decades and changing societal mores, this has remained a consistent fall-back position for those who chose situational expediency over doing what’s right.
Within this context it is hard to argue with the individual who, and it should be noted, is not in the minority, holds Paterno as accountable for the molestations as Sandusky.
Beyond the questions raised earlier in today’s article, if we are to accept the premise that those who either directly or indirectly have knowledge of abuses taking place are as guilty as those committing the heinous acts if they fail to step up to the plate and say something, then what is a suitable punishment? To many, Paterno’s firing isn’t enough which is perhaps why it was a wise move for the former head coach to retain the services of a lawyer.
But here’s the thing, and once again referring to the UK study, the majority of people who could come forward chose not to which points to a much larger problem. As a means of counteracting this inclination towards silence or non-involvement, it has been suggested that organizations beef up their screening processes to try and weed out possible paedophiles and abusers before they are permitted to work with young people.
Unfortunately, the national director of Clubs for Young People Colin Groves said that “introducing checks would cost money – money most clubs do not have,” while in the process potentially deterring people from volunteering. So if one were to accept Groves’ convoluted logic then, and similar to the it is better for 10 guilty men to go free than 1 innocent man to be wrongfully convicted, what he is really saying is that it is better for 1 paedophile to slip through versus possibly turning away 10 decent and morally solid volunteers?!?
Adding further insult to the injurious nature of the Groves reaction to tighter volunteer screening measures, was the suggestion by officials at South Lanarkshire Council in Scotland, that parents need to be more vigilant and that it is the responsibility of the child to come forward when they experience abuse at the hands of a trusted adult.
My initial reaction is that this is tantamount to blaming the victim of rape for putting herself in the position to be raped. It is insensitive and just plain dumb. Especially when you consider the fact that predators like the Sandusky’s or Hanson’s usually prey upon underprivileged children from broken or troubled homes where there are already issues of hardship and neglect. Even with children who come from a favourable background with loving and involved parents, the passing of the buck so to speak by the Groves of the world is ridiculous and goes a long way towards explaining how morally bankrupt individuals like Sandusky can elude justice for so long.
Just as it is ridiculous and unacceptable to blame a woman for putting herself in the position to being sexually assaulted so to is it repugnant to place the responsibility for child abuse at the foot of the children themselves, instead of where it rightly belongs which is on both the predator and those that allow him or her to operate without challenge and accountability.