11/16/2011 09:26 am ET Updated Jan 16, 2012

Dear Penn State: What Are You Teaching Us?

For the past week, Pennsylvania State University has been in a state of chaos. The students of Penn State have taken to the street, protesting the firing of beloved football coach, Joe Paterno. Paterno was fired for coving up a sexual abuse scandal involving one of his assistant coaches, Jerry Sandusky. He was told by a coach, Mike McQueary, that Sadunsky was abusing a child in a Penn State locker room. Sandusky is currently charged with 40 counts of abusing eight boys. And Penn State's student body took to the street rioting.

But what are they rioting about? I would expect this kind of explosive rage to be directed towards, say, a sexual abuse scandal involving underage boys. Instead, the students are revolting about Paterno being fired. Penn State, please consider what you are rioting, before you do so.

Frankly, I am horrified by the reaction Penn State has had to this scandal. I would expect more candlelight vigils than trashed streets. It's concerning that the students are more worried that their beloved head coach has been fired than that eight children have been sexually abused. Penn State should be embarrassed that they are supporting Paterno in this way.

This brings me to my main point -- what are they are teaching us, the next generation of college students. I am sure most people value the well-being of children more than their favorite team's season record. But these students are teaching us that it's OK to know about the sexual abuse of children, and not report a rapist.

Maybe this is too extreme. Perhaps the students got wrapped up in the mob mentality, the thrill of their first "protest," not realizing what exactly they were promoting, what they were telling us they were supporting.

The students, media, everyone has been focusing more on the loss of "Joepa" than the fact that someone has abused eight underage boys. Not everyone realizes how their lives will be forever changed, because Paterno and McQueary did not speak up.

They have been trying to rectify their misstep, like wearing blue to symbolize their support for the victims at a recent game and holding candlelight vigils for them as well. Unfortunately, the damage has already been done.

Instead of following the example of Penn State's students, think about the repercussions of your actions before you do something. Speak up when you see something that you know is wrong.
Penn State has some work to do, and show us that they are greater than their football team.