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Go Ask Mom

Amanda Lamb: A mother's perspective on Penn State

Posted November 20, 2011

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.


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  • smalltownrockstar Nov 25, 2011

    AMEN! i know i am def one of those mothers who cant really say what she wants. but if it had of been my son i can PROMISE you they wouldnt be having a trail for him. they would be burying him. this is the worst thing i could ever see happening to a child. he wont stand a chance in jail that is for sure. but because he is famous he will probably only get house arrest and probation. and all those people who saw and didnt say anything...they would be in the grave beside him. they are just as guilty!!!!

  • housemanagercary Nov 22, 2011

    Amen. I am still thinking about it daily. My son is 11 and it PAINS me to even think about it but we as a society must not let it be swept away. They have to be punished and it has to be loud and public and ugly. Keep it in the forefront ladies (and Dads!!)

  • heelsgirl05 Nov 21, 2011

    this whole situation is weird....everyone seemed to have reported it to somebody and nothing was done about it and no one called the administration on it. seems to me like the communication lines are messed up!

  • austins2 Nov 21, 2011

    Amamda, I agree with you 100%! No excuse on anybodies part for not reporting it and no excuse on the person who saw it from not
    stopping it!What are we coming to?

  • cwood3 Nov 21, 2011

    Absolutley-if and man or woman spots the kind of activity reported and they do nothing-they are not much of a man or woman. We owe every child in America safety-at all costs.

    Penn State will pay for this for YEARS to come-believe me.
    They are already loosing kids who committed to play-and since this stuff-have changed their minds.

    And who wants to coach in a place so rural that you loose cell service for nearly 30 minutes getting there?? The salary package will have to be outrageously high to get anybody good to coach there!!

  • Glass Half Full Nov 21, 2011

    I would be one of those mothers whose true thoughts aren't suitable for publication. The ones who turned a blind eye, to me, are as guilty as the one who committed the act(s). A total lack of conscience is the only way I can imagine one would be albe to live with that knowledge and not take immediate and swift action. I thank God it wasn't my child, and my heart breaks for the children it did happen to. America's "justice" system won't handle this appropriately, they never do. We can only hope for justice when this man and his accomplices die.

  • pinkletoes Nov 21, 2011

    "Do you know what you are doing when you are ten years old pressed against a shower wall getting raped? You're hoping that someone comes to your rescue. And he does. Some 6'4" 280 pound guy turns the corner and you see him and he sees you, and he walks away, and hope turns to despair." - Tim Henderson

    There is nothing in this world more important than the body and soul of a child. Everybody who knew anything about this should be ashamed of themselves for not doing anything and everything to stop the abuse.

  • sandtran36 Nov 21, 2011

    Well said, and I totally agree!

  • sueqblue Nov 21, 2011

    This was an epic failure on so many levels. These children were FAILED!!

  • jjrn Nov 21, 2011

    Agreed! There is absolutely NO excuse for not taking a child away from that situation. There is not enough money or power in the world to justify inaction when a child was being harmed. Shame on them!!