Sunday, November 13, 2011

When Good Men Do Nothing ... Are They "Good?"

by Leann

As someone who, as a school nurse for 20 years, reported suspected child abuse and neglect more times than I can count, I am saddened but not surprised by the unfolding events at Penn State University. I heard every excuse why a teacher or an aide or an administrator or a school volunteer didn't think they should report the obvious when a child came to them injured or afraid. But for the most part, when I told them they must report it and told them the reasons why, nine times out of ten these people changed their mind. See, it's just the right thing to do. Simple. Plus, in Texas, if you fail to report abuse, you will be prosecuted. You are accountable.

What's in the news now isn't about a college sport icon, it isn't about a university program where athletes are treated like heroes, it's about doing the right thing for the right reasons. But like with the Catholic church's failures, absolute power corrupts absolutely. It can create a moral vacuum. College sports are about god-like coaches and stadium churches where the faithful go to worship. What happens in a locker room shower (or behind an altar) must not interfere with this religion.

But now it has. Eight years after someone actually witnessed a child rape. As a past and frequent reporter of child abuse, having an eye witness to a child rape is almost unheard of. Yet there it was. And so it was told. And then it was put away because that child's torture wasn't important enough to disrupt the holy game. The fact that the alleged abuser committed his crime on university property speaks volumes, speaks to the culture created when good men (or women) do nothing. Apparently this alleged abuser felt certain no one would send him to jail where he belonged--and where I hope he ends up.

I was threatened more than once by parents or caregivers after I reported child abuse. I was trapped alone in my office by an abuser who was more than a little annoyed that I had reported his brand of "discipline" to child protective services. I wasn't afraid and I didn't even care if he hurt me. I have to live with me forever and if I let down one child who needed someone to protect them, I could never live with myself. But then, I was just a nurse. No, I was just an honest, caring human being who knows right from wrong.

The Edmund Burke quote in its entirety needs stating here: "All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing."

Evil exists. If you see it, know of it, hear about it, please do something.

If you came for a cozy blog, I know I didn't deliver that today. But I couldn't keep silent. I'm not that kind of person.