If Only All Child Molesters Drove Windowless White Vans
current mood: frustrated
Because then we'd always know who to keep away from children. But child molesters look just like anyone else. That's why you don't usually hear about a molester abusing a single victim before he gets caught. Rather, it seems as though getting caught is fairly abnormal. Jerry Sandusky is accused of molesting eight boys in fifteen years. Only one of those boys went to the police. One in eight (at least) in fifteen years. This absolutely blows my mind. So how does a child molester manage to get away with abuse for so long? Well, for one thing, they pick their victims wisely. But then there's the other side, which is the people around the abuser. The media has been crucifying Joe Paterno because he didn't "do enough". Let's get real for a minute. We all know how serious an accusation sexual abuse of a child is and how eternally damning it is to the accused even if the accusation is eventually revealed to be untrue. And we all think we would know without question if someone was a child molester. The truth is that you wouldn't. That's how child molesters are given access to victims by the community at large. I can guarantee that you know a child abuser. I can guarantee that you've met one, maybe even shook his hand, without recognizing the monster in your midst. Maybe he coached your kid's soccer team. Maybe he's your neighbor. Maybe he's your middle school vice principal. These people exist. Now I don't say this as a way to scare you or make you suspicious of every adult male you've ever known. Rather, I'm trying to illustrate how normal it is for us to believe that we have trusted our children to the right people, that we have a sense of who deserves trust and loyalty. We don't.
I feel compelled to defend Joe Paterno because I have been in an almost similar situation. A friend once confided in me that she had been molested as a child. She didn't give me any details, but I did suspect (correctly, as it turned out) a person I had also trusted. And when another friend accidentally revealed the abuser's identity, I did nothing with the information. We were all over the age of eighteen and I do know that the abuser wasn't directly in contact with any children at the time (no kids' soccer, no little neighbors, no job as a school administrator), but the fat remains that I did nothing with that information. I did not and still have not told anyone about this person's abuse. I don't have any firsthand evidence. I wasn't even told the abuser's identity directly from his victim. But I knew it happened and I have said nothing. Does this make me a bad person? I know a bit of what Joe Paterno felt because I myself feel it - am I right to leave this information undisclosed? This molester doesn't really have access to children now, I think. Would I be justified in dragging my friend, his victim, into revealing publicly what was once personal? Had I been there, seen this abuse, I would have no worry as to what is the right course of action. Mike McQueary is someone I do no understand. He deserves to have is reputation shredded and to be unceremoniously fired. But Joe Paterno... If only every child molester drove a windowless white van, we could be confident in believing that we would all know the right thing to do.