Speak Up

November 10, 2011 § 3 Comments

All of the headlines in the past few days have made it easy to get involved in the chaos surrounding the Joe Paterno scandal. Though I am not one to judge others’ actions, I believe that there are certain instances in which a person’s decisions or actions, no matter who that person is, are wrong. Joe Paterno allowing Jerry Sandusky, a serial pedophile, to remain an assistant coach after learning of the numerous sexual abuses he had performed, was wrong.

This may be a minor case to compare to the sexual abuse of 15 boys, but as a child, I was bullied. This is something that, although has made me the strong person I am today, was very difficult for me. I am very fortunate that the bullying only occurred in verbal contexts. But I know that if the teachers who saw me being bullied in middle school would have spoken up, they could have changed my life.

For an average individual, hearing that someone (or a group of people) has being sexually abused should instantly set off an alarm. Something is wrong with this picture. Then, that individual should do everything in his or her power to have this sexual predator’s crimes dealt with by the proper forces. When I say average, I mean that I believe it does not take godly strength to speak up on someone else’s behalf.

I believe some individuals are so caught up in what an idol Joe Paterno is for the college football world, they are overlooking the major truth. What if one of those boys who was sexually abused was your son? What if one of those boys were you?

It’s horrible that Paterno allowed this to happen repeatedly. Some people say he didn’t allow it because he did go to an authority. If a man has sexually abused a child, there is something wrong with him. He should not be left in a position to repeat this act.

Maybe Paterno made a mistake. Everyone makes mistakes. But there are consequences for actions, even mistakes. Hopefully when these students who are rioting on the campus allow the truth to settle in, they will feel differently in a few days or so.

The scary thing is, though, that sexual abuse is happening at universities all over the country. Last Friday, Ryan Clifford, an ex-student from UC Davis sued the school for ignoring his reports of abusive hazing tactics from his fraternity. He was sexually abused by his so-called “brothers,”  and when nothing was done when he told authorities, he filed a suit against the school. This ultimately resulted in Clifford being removed from the school, while he was just 6.5 credits short of graduation.

Clifford spoke up, but was punished. As our world is progressing on so many different levels, we should continue to speak up if something is not right. Harassment is never okay. Whether it is on the middle school level  of bullying, the college level of being hazed by a fraternity, or a grown adult sexually abusing 15 boys, it is always wrong. If you know something is going on that shouldn’t be, SPEAK UP.

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§ 3 Responses to Speak Up

  • rissable says:

    In 1964, Kitty Genovese was murdered in front of 38 witnesses. Nobody spoke up. This case spoke volumes to me as a child and later as an adult. We have a moral responsibility; a social responsibility to speak up for victims who are being harmed. Thank you for sharing your personal story…by doing so it will make a difference in the world we live in.

  • Mike M says:

    Well put Ri. Im sure he was a great man and i know he brought the Penn State community together so much but what happened isnt okay and your right, it does happen every day all over the country and people just ignore it. Theres some bad people out there but as this obviously shows, its better to speak up right away then hid things…the truth always comes out. Also i dont get the riots one bit, why destroy your own campus that he helped become what it is today when you’e made he was fired….doesnt make sense

  • Jeff K says:

    Great post! The personal back-story definitely lends itself to what happened here and made me think about this a bit differently.

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