Sunday, November 20, 2011
Penn State, the Specter of Institutional Failure and the Promotion of Healthy Child Development.
We wanted to take a moment and share a Letter to the Editor we wrote on Penn State, the specter of institutional failure and the promotion of healthy child development.
To the Editor,
Most of us want to live in a country that we can be proud of, where powerful institutions and people seek to ensure that all children have equal opportunities for healthy growth and development. The specter of institutional failure at the Pennsylvania State University (Penn State) is one reason why the unfolding scandal disturbs those of us who advocate on behalf of children. But the scandal should also serve as a wake-up call for everyone in the country that we all play a role in raising healthy children free of abuse and the long-term adverse impacts that can result when we don’t prevent it.
As a nation, we should demand to know what kind of organizational culture at Penn State exists that even allowed the university to be in this position? We as a community of people who care about children should demand to know why these allegations were not reported. And as interested individuals we must demand to know how other interests may have taken precedent over the best interests of a child. We should be morally outraged that subsequent allegations of abuse occurred because no one acted with a focus on fixing the situation. There is no conceivable justification that would support the apparent actions taken, and not taken, by the university that placed other interests over the best interests of children.
Prevent Child Abuse America applauds the Board of Trustees’ decision to fire the individuals who failed to act, including Coach Paterno and President Graham Spanier, and their efforts to improve the school’s obligations to the community and state. But as we turn our focus towards healing the children who were victims of this abuse we must redouble our effort to make sure this doesn't happen again.
Through advancing evidence-based prevention strategies, including child sexual abuse prevention services, Prevent Child Abuse America seeks to ensure access to prevention in every community in the United States. But that is only part of our mission.
I also believe that together we have the chance to make a meaningful impact in the lives of all children and that's why Prevent Child Abuse America helped found the National Movement for America’s Children (movementforchildren.org). We call on the public to help us ensure that policies and programs that promote healthy child growth and development are put in place and maintained. Together we can ensure that the next Penn State incident is prevented from ever occurring in the first place.
James M. Hmurovich President & CEO,
Prevent Child Abuse America