Among the many troubling aspects of the Penn State story over the past few weeks is the news that a number of those associated with the school did not do their part in reporting suspected cases of child abuse for fear of losing their jobs or tarnishing the image of the university.
The moral lesson from this shortfall has echoed across the world – Protection of the vulnerable should be the first priority and failing to follow through on one’s responsibilities to stand up for what is right only leads to an exponentially worse result.
Reputations of a school or any entity fail to calculate when compared to the impact on victims who could have been rescued if someone had stepped up and spoken out. As citizens in a community dedicated to the safety and well-being of kids, we can all do our part to stand resolutely on guard.
“Be careful who you bring into your homes and allow around your children,” said Detective Dave Bentley of the Spokane County Sheriff’s Office at a town hall in Spokane Valley this September. “Don’t put them in harm’s way.”
Other critical messages were reiterated as part of the scenario, including helping kids understand the importance of telling parents or a trusted adult when abuse or an attempt at abuse takes place. Local organizations like Child Protective Services (363-3333) rely on residents to report suspected abuse.
As we’ve seen, those who choose to do nothing face criminal prosecution of their own.
At Spokane County Juvenile Court, the Court Appointed Special Advocate program represents children who are alleged to have been abused or neglected.
“We are obligated to protect those who cannot protect themselves,” said Susan Cairy, one of the CASA coordinators.
Advocacy agencies like Lutheran Community Services (747-8224) and Crime Victim Center (1-866-751-7119) provide valuable support and healing for victims.
Having the commitment and courage to protect against abuse is not only right, it is essential. Nothing less than the future of our children and our society hinges on taking such a fundamental stand.