Wednesday, September 18, 2019

Curriculum Coincidence

I spent a few hours today taking an online course that is mandated by the program I coach for, a training module about sexual abuse, bullying, harassment, hazing, and inappropriate physical and emotional conduct. The curriculum featured videos with social workers and a forensic investigator who specializes in abuse cases. Needless to say, there were several trigger warnings throughout the course due to the nature of the subjects. After taking the tests after the various units and receiving my certification, I decided to do some web surfing.

There was a timely post at LGM about Joe Paterno, and the various apologists (appallogists?) who downplay his agency in the Penn State sexual abuse scandal... in this case, professional contrarian Malcolm Gladwell. There seems to be a cottage industry which seeks to rehabilitate Joe Paterno, typically by claiming he knew nothing of the serial sexual abuse perpetrated by his subordinate, Jerry Sandusky. Even when Paterno was informed that Sandusky was sodomizing children in Penn State facilities, these apologists like to portray him as a naïf who was too consumed by football to understand what 'raping children in the shower' meant.

The Penn State scandal, amplified by the subsequent serial sexual abuse perpetrated by Michigan State University doctor Larry Nassar, spawned an entire industry to combat the sexual and other abuse of young athletes. Before the Sandusky scandal, I never had to undergo a criminal background check and drug testing in order to coach. There weren't courses about mandatory reporting of abuse allegations to the authorities. There just weren't protocols put in place to guide respondents, we just had to rely on our moral judgment, which is where Paterno failed. Thankfully, I have never had to personally deal with a horrific situation like this, but I look at the Penn State and MSU horrors and I wonder why these institutions weren't razed to the ground.

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