I grew up in a small town in Pennsylvania in the 1950's and 1960's that had a pedophile who was the Cub Scout leader and the Sunday School Superintendent at a local church. Many people in town, including the Boy Scout leader, knew he was a pedophile but the town's "code of silence" prevented any charges from ever being brought against him. In the past few years we have learned that child abuse still exists within almost every institution in our society and it still goes unreported. Priests, teachers, coaches and Boy Scout leaders have been shown to use their positions of authority to abuse children. Somehow we have hoped that the recent realization that we all have a responsibility to not be silent about child abuse would prevent these acts from occurring today. Unfortunately two recent news stories have brought home the reality that child abuse is still a reality for many children today and authorities still look to protect their institutions instead of children.
At Penn State people within the University, including Joe Paterno, felt that sexually abusing children should have been handled as an internal manner. The damage to the image of the institution seemed to be the overriding concern. As a result ,as it was within the Catholic Church, no reports were made to law enforcement to have the situation handled as a criminal matter which it was. Even when it comes to the horrendous crime of sexually abusing children many people given positions of authority in our institutions still react first to protect the image of the institution.
The second recent story has been in the news as a result of a You Tube video of a father beating his 16 year old daughter. The father happens to be a judge and was a well respect member of his community. I am posting the link to the video to show how severe physical punishment can be with a parent who feels that corporal punishment is an acceptable form of discipline. We still have many people today who would never condone kicking a dog or hitting a spouse but still feel that it is appropriate to use corporal punishment as a form of discipline with children. Hitting a child is never about teaching them discipline but is about an adult taking their anger out on a vulnerable child.
Sadly we still have a long way to go to change the code of silence about child abuse in our society.
I would be remiss if I didn't use this blog to direct people who want to become involved in this issue to VOICES for Children. They are a great organization and are always looking for more volunteers to work with abused children.