Adding to the surge of public interest in the alleged Penn State child molestation scandal is the recently released book Game Over:Jerry Sandusky, Penn State, and the Culture of Silence.
The book chronicles the legacy of Joe Paterno and the derailment of that legacy relative to the scandal.
The phrase ‘Culture of Silence’ refers to the alleged negligence by Penn State officials, including Paterno, of not properly reporting crimes in which children were being sexually harassed and abused on Penn State property by Jerry Sandusky, a long-time member of Paterno’s coaching staff. The book is a summative tale of the interwoven connection been the iconic coach, a football legacy, and the tragic and morbid unraveling of both, as the implications of intentional ‘silence’ occurred in an alleged effort to protect Penn State’s pristine image and football program.
In November of 2011, a grand jury probe led to Sandusky being charged with more than 50 counts of child sex abuse. Allegations of abuse stem as far back as 1996 and many of the alleged victims have ties to The Second Mile, a charitable organization founded in 1977 by Sandusky. (Cont. below…)
Penn State employees, including assistant coach Mike McQueary, had testified that Paterno was told graphic, eye-witness accounts of Sandusky’s sexual misconduct, yet authorities were not notified.
The book was released as a mounting federal investigation, led by assistant U.S. attorney Gordon Zubrod, had been launched to look into the allegations that top Penn State officials were aware of Sandusky’s alleged crimes. The subpoena called for the release of official Penn State records, including correspondence with The Second Mile.
As Penn State strives to re-shine its tarnished image, the investigation could lead to greater damage. If the investigation uncovers a connection, the University stands to lose a substantial amount of funding, not to mention a decline in patronization.
The book was co-authored by Bill Moushey and Robert Dvorchak, well-established investigative journalists, both of whom have lived in Pittsburgh. Moushey is currently a professor of journalism and mass communications at Point Park University in Pittsburgh. Both men have written for the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.
Game Over:Jerry Sandusky, Penn State, and the Culture of Silence has received unfavorable reviews on Amazon.com. Currently, the book has received an average of 2 out of 5 stars, with 53 of the reviews labeling the book as a 1 star. One reader stated, “If I could rate this zero stars I would.” (Source: Amazon.com)
Even among the few positive reviews, the reviewers are not citing material typical of a traditional book review. Lost are the usual comments regarding fluidity and style. The focus of the majority of the editorialized reviews seem to be emotionally charged, as the reviews are indicative of the fervent disdain for anyone involved in crimes against children. Also frequently mentioned is the fact that facts are missing. Due to the sensitive nature of the alleged crimes, much of the testimony has not been made public. In addition, court-subpoenaed documents have not been released, thus leaving gaps in the validity of the book’s details.
Though the book details only the alleged ‘culture of silence’ established at Penn State, the situation documented is reflective of many child sex-abuse cases. Hushed are the stories of children when a adults lures them into criminal acts.
A 2010 report compiled by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services reveals that child sexual-abuse cases are the second lowest type of crimes-against-children reported. The 7.6% report rate is second only to medical neglect, at 2.4%. General neglect is most commonly reported, at 78.3%. The National Child Traumatic Stress Network (NCTSN) reported that “65,964 cases of child sexual abuse were reported in the United States in 2009.”
The low reporting rate of child sexual-abuse cases may have something to do with the following statistic: “More than 90% of juvenile sexual abuse victims know their perpetrator in some way”, as reported by www.childhelp.org. This is one possible correlation between abuse and the development of a wide-spread culture of silence – families may hush the spread of honesty about such crimes for fear of public ridicule or increased damage to the child.
Local advocacy groups strive to break this form of detrimental silence.
Artist and Activist, Rachel E. Milano of REMwell Communications Foundation, an advocacy organization, offers on and offline programs that provide mentorship for survivors of violation. The core focus of their social services agenda is strategic support for persons transitioning through the devastating impacts of violations such as maltreatment, neglect, sexual assault and hate crimes.
The key to protecting children is to know who is at risk and how to properly teach prevention. Statistics show that the most commonly targeted children are those of single-female parents. Prevention requires educating children about the right to their own bodies. According to Families Online Magazine, the top priority is to “[i]nform children that it is wrong for adults to touch them inappropriately and to engage children in sexual activity with them.”
It is quite fitting that Game Over: Jerry Sandusky, Penn State, and the Culture of Silence would be released during National Sexual Assault Awareness Month (April). The negative criticism of the book is ultimately more valuable than the reviews imply however damaging to book sales they might be – the book is, after all, breaking the silence.
If you suspect child abuse, report it. Immediately. The National Child Abuse Hotline is1-800-4-A-CHILD.
If you or a loved one has been a victim of child abuse, visit www.childhelp.org to find support.
Silence is not an option. And it is certainly not a game.
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