Monday, July 16, 2012

Dear Penn State

Brief discussion of sexual predation ahead.

Dear Penn State,

You're dealing with a lot right now.  I don't want to take up too much of your time when people far more eloquent than I am are trying to get your attention.  I'll confine myself to remarking on what Melissa McEwan describes:
There is much more at the link, including the report that, after 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 message here wasn't "stop assaulting children."  It was "stop assaulting children on-campus.  Stop assaulting children on our turf."

This sounds oddly similar to a boss saying, "Don't use your work e-mail account for personal messages.  Don't use your work computer to make LOLcats."  As if the problem is misuse of company property.  Do it on your own time!

Do you see the problem there?

As necessary dialogue continues over how universities and other groups should handle reports of sexual assault, I hope that everyone comes to understand that misuse of company property isn't the problem, and that the "humane" thing to do is to protect children from sexual predators.

Maybe this will come in handy next time:

Things it's understandable that you'd care about protecting: your reputation, an institution which is meaningful to you, colleagues

Things you should prioritize over items in the first list: the health, well-being, and safety of children who are being abused, violated, and preyed upon

I hope that in the future, victims of sexual assault receive help from people at Penn State.  Admonishing sexual predators to keep their predation more secret and less public isn't actually helpful to the victims, and they're who we should all put first.  I hope that you come to agree with me on that.

With love,
Frank Lee

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