Penn State and Silence

It’s been three months since my last post because on August 29th, my husband and I welcomed our first child home! He’s sleeping on me as I write this; he won’t sleep in his own bed during the day, and I’m told I should enjoy the experience while it lasts, since he won’t want to cuddle for long. At least these days, he’s content to sleep in a carrier and not strictly my arms so I can finally write.

Having a kid has made me think about everything a little bit differently; trite as that is, it’s much truer than I thought it would be. I’ve already written about my evolving opinions on privacy in light of having a kid. I’ve also spent a lot of time in the last three months reading about homeschooling, especially from Penelope Trunk and Kate Fridkis, and the future of education in this country. But the explosive controversy at Penn State has been rocking my mom-brain recently, which I’m sure is true for every parent out there.

It’s horrifying to think that an adult working at an organization you trust, that you think will help your kid overcome challenges, could hurt your kid in any way, much less in as terrible a way as rape and sexual abuse. I remember the horror I felt when the Catholic Church’s child abuse scandal broke and the situations are exceptionally similar: authority figures subtly encouraged, if not flat-out demanded, silence about and the covering up of these terrible abuses.

What gives me hope is my unwavering belief in the power of social media and the web to continue to break down the ability of authority figures to perpetuate crimes in silence.

The success of protestors in Egypt this spring made me proud and happy to bring a child into this world. And the success of the Occupy Wall Street movement to bring attention to serious problems in this country without resorting to violent, destructive riots (for the most part) made me even more proud.

It’s not that I think terrible crimes like those allegedly committed by Sandusky will stop happening in the future as social media and the web become ever more accessible and ubiquitous. Or that knowing the whole world is watching will prevent people from doing terrible things in Pennsylvania, Oakland, or Syria.

It’s just that it will be much harder for those who want it to enforce silence. It will be much easier for everyone’s story to be heard.

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