Lessons to Learn from the Penn State Sex Abuse Scandal

I thought it would be interesting to post a list of opinions from around the nation in the wake of the Penn State scandal. While the scandal didn’t occur in California, we have had our own issues with the Boy Scouts scandals, and the Peters and Arevalos cases, and California lawmakers have introduced legislation that will strengthen criminal penalties for failure to report child sexual abuse.

Further Reading: California lawmakers plan bills in wake of Penn State scandal

Opinions, for the most part, strongly condemn not just Sandusky, the person who committed the crimes, but Penn State as an institution. Here’s just a few from around the internet:

“You’ve got to have it written, you’ve got to train your personnel,” said Richard Dailey of West Bridgewater, a lawyer who works with youth groups and schools on sexual abuse policies. In areas ranging from the Catholic Church to the Boy Scouts of America, allegations of child sex abuse have resulted in changes – from written rules to increased staff training – designed to prevent such problems from occurring again. The scandals at Penn State and Syracuse, which seen to grow in scope each day, should prompt similar reassessments in youth sports programs everywhere.” via the Patriot Ledger, 30 Nov 2011.

“A lot more untoward behavior towards kids is recast as a serious felony when maybe in the past it would be sloughed off as, ‘There goes that crazy uncle again,’ or variations on that theme,” said Douglas Berman, a professor at Ohio State University’s Moritz College of Law who specializes in criminal sentencing. The subject of child sexual abuse has also edged more into the open as institutions such as the Boy Scouts of America and the Catholic Church have been forced to confront molesters in their midst. “We’ve made some pretty good progress at breaking the code of silence,” said Jeff Dion, director of the National Crime Victim Bar Association. “We know we have to talk about it.” via the Wall Street Journal, 25 Nov 2011.

“Like the Roman Catholic Church, Penn State is an arrogant institution hiding behind its mystique. And sports, as my former fellow sports columnist at The Washington Star, David Israel, says, is “an insular world that protects its own, and operates outside of societal norms as long as victories and cash continue to flow bountifully.” Penn State rakes in $70 million a year from its football program.” Maureen Dowd in the New York Times, 8 Nov 2011.