Note: I just realized I wrote on this topic last November, and frankly, I think I made my point better back then. If you’d like to read it, just click here.
It’s all I’ve been hearing the last few days, on social media and from acquaintances, through the interactions David has over the course of his work day: “I don’t want to hear any more about this Sandusky business. Just tell me when it’s over.” People are annoyed, up in arms. How can they be calling this trial such a big deal? they ask. How dare the news interrupt a television program to just tell me the jury is finished deliberating for the night! they fume. People are tired of it. They’re sick of the coverage. Just make it go away, they’re saying. They don’t want to listen to accusations and the testimonies and the controversy anymore.
But we must listen. We must have knowledge of patterns of violence, we need to understand the warning signs, see the holes in bureaucracy where innocent children can slip through, unnoticed, ignored. I don’t care if you’re loyal to a particular university, or person, or if the topic simply makes you uncomfortable. You cannot close your eyes to the evil that is child abuse. Because it’s closed eyes and shut doors and hands over the ears that made these children suffer as long as they did.
And you, you, who are educators, and social workers, who are parents, you are the most important links in this. Look around you. Pay close attention to that neighborhood kid who keeps showing up at your house and never wants to leave. Watch that girl in your second period who doesn’t seem quite as excited as everybody else to go home for winter break. Take a minute to really listen to that student who’s always hanging around your classroom after school, even though you’re stressed out and have a massive amount of prep to complete for the next day’s lessons. Don’t tell me you’re sick of it. Not paying attention to it only perpetuates the crime, allows it to be the secret everybody suspects but no one intercepts, makes you think you can wash your hands of a problem that isn’t yours, isn’t yours, let somebody else worry about it.
Go ahead, tell me that Sandusky didn’t do it. Tell me that he’s a good man, that PSU is too upstanding, that there’s no way it’s true. Go ahead. But if not to protect or pay penance for these kids, what about the others? Because even if your eyes are closed, it’s happening. And it’s happening more often than you want to care about.
We must listen. We must hear every awful detail that has–still is–coming out in this case. We must know what the verdict will be, and what will happen after this. We have to pay attention, and we have to learn, and we have to keep aware. Because it’s the only way to keep it from happening again to that kid, or that kid, or to our very own.