3 Things You Need to Know About the Penn State Sex Abuse Report
Penn State has published the findings from its investigation into the Sandusky sexual abuse case. You can read all 260-some-odd pages here if you like. If not, here are three important takeaways from the report and the surrounding media coverage of the case, which some of my fellow Bloggers on the Internets have so eloquently articulated.
1. The report shows that everyone knew.
If you don't have time to review the full 267-page internal investigation of the Penn State scandal, here's the gist: Everyone knew. Former Penn State head football coach Joe Paterno knew. Former Penn State University president Graham Spanier knew. Former Penn State University vice president Gary Schultz knew. Penn State Athletic Director (currently on leave) Tim Curley knew. Everyone knew. As far back as 1998, when they learned of a criminal investigation of Sandusky related to an instance of suspected sexual misconduct with a boy in a PSU football locker room shower.
2. It offers some textbook examples of rape culture.
[A]fter Sandusky sexually abused a 10-year-old boy in the shower at the football facility, the university's president, Graham Spanier, and athletic director, Tim Curley, decided that "the 'humane' thing to do would be to speak to Sandusky and warn him not to bring children on campus any longer."
The "humane" thing was to not report Sandusky, whose humanity and dignity and safety was of prime importance. What was "humane" for his victims, past and future, was not even worthy of consideration.
That, right there, is the central and defining feature of the rape culture: It caters to rapists, at the expense of their victims.
3. It will be triggering for a lot of people -- perhaps more people than you realize.
Kelly McBride at Poynter, in a post directed at journalists:
One in four girls and one in six boys are sexually assaulted by the time they reach age 18. Those numbers are astounding and in many cases adults do not believe this problem is that prevalent. But it is that prevalent. Childhood sexual assault is a common occurrence that transcends all socio-economic barriers. Rich children and poor children of every race are victims of abuse.
In your own newsroom, people who are working on this story are dealing with their own trauma.
In your audience, people who read or watch this story may need support.