The Louis Freeh report on the child sexual abuse incidents committed at Penn State University makes for chilling but important reading. Released on July 12, the thorough 162-page report by the Special Investigative Counsel, drives home one startling and terrible conclusion: "the failure of Penn State's most powerful leaders to adequately report and respond to the actions of a serial sexual predator."
The report documents several causes of this failure, including:
• Fear of bad publicity
• Lack of empathy for the victims
• Failure of board oversight
• Lack of awareness of child abuse and whistleblower policies, and
• A culture of reverence for the football program
The most frightening finding is the lack of concern for the victims, reflected in one email message sent in 1998 from a senior vice president of the university to the university president, stating that he hoped the incident was now behind them.
You should read this report. It should make you angry. Then you should direct your anger to doing whatever you can in your community to make sure such failures never happen anywhere.
Officials who hold the precious well being of children and youth in their trust must be accountable. There is no excuse for such a colossal failure of leadership -- and no making up for the added damage that failure did to young boys over the years.
No institution is more important than a child. It will take the involvement of honest and ethical community members to make sure other institutions -- including schools, child protection systems, and youth sports programs -- put the best interest of their children above all else.
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