Lately, the talk among the mothers I know has not been about where everyone is having Thanksgiving dinner or what everyone is getting their kids for Christmas, but about their outrage over what happened at Penn State. Nothing touches a mother’s nerve like the thought of a child being hurt — and that’s what this tragedy, which has become a national story, is all about.
It’s no secret that money and power, which often go hand-in-hand, make the world go ‘round. But it is hard to imagine that children’s lives could be sacrificed in the process. I think the nationally syndicated columnist Maureen Dowd put it best on Nov. 8 when she said: “Penn State is an arrogant institution hiding behind its mystique.” Its powerhouse football program brings in $70 million a year — that buys a lot of mystique.
“I would have taken his hand and run,” one mother said to me regarding the 10-year-old boy that a witness allegedly saw being raped in the Penn State football locker room shower in 2002.
Several other mothers have used much stronger language about what they would have done on the spot to Jerry Sandusky, the former coach accused of being a rapist. But unequivocally, all of the mothers I spoke with had one thing in common — they would have called 911. In the aftermath of the investigation at least seven adults knew about the incident and kept it quiet. More missed opportunities to do the right thing.
Call me naive, tell me I don’t understand sports or how powerful institutions operate on a hierarchy system similar to that of a small kingdom. None of that matters. There is no gray area here. Adults are supposed to protect children. Period. This includes the serfs all the way up to the king.
Amanda is the mom of two, a reporter for WRAL-TV and the author of several books including two on motherhood. Find her here on Mondays.