I've struggled long and hard as to whether to write this letter, but finally decided it was necessary for a number of reasons. I am a Penn State graduate, as are our two daughters and my late father.
When you grow up in West Virginia, you're often "born a Mountaineer." When you grow up in Pennsylvania, you're often born a "Nittany Lion."
The last nine months have been gut wrenching for anyone who loves Penn State, whether it be a student, student athlete, alumnus or university employee. Of course our sadness and despair pale in comparison to the damage inflicted by the serial pedophile Jerry Sandusky. No amount of punishment of the perpetrator can ever heal or help the victims. This we know.
But, I'm extremely dismayed by irrational comments from generally intelligent people who have condemned an entire university for the actions or inactions of a few people. If you've actually read the Freeh report, you must question a number of things. One of the most important tenants in the entire document has been largely ignored by the media and the NCAA's committee of one. In 1998, the district attorney, police department and several state organizations conducted an investigation of Jerry Sandusky and alleged misconduct with young boys. School officials, parents and alleged victims were all questioned. The investigation was closed and no charges were filed. Sandusky should have been stopped in 1998 and he wasn't.
The report went on to state that law enforcement and child welfare officials were not sufficiently trained to recognize and handle cases of adolescent abuse. Why has this never been mentioned? Apparently it wouldn't sell as many ads or newspapers. If the professionals who are hired to serve and protect us didn't have the proper knowledge and training when it pertained to these types of cases, what makes everyone think a football coach should?
How is it just to punish football players who were probably still in diapers when this all occurred? My personal opinion is that the NCAA felt like it was losing its grip on some of the large sports programs and had the perfect excuse to make an example of Penn State. The NCAA never investigated the Sandusky (not Penn State) scandal, but instead took bits and pieces they chose from the Freeh report. Even members of the Freeh committee have stated that the NCAA should have conducted its own investigation.
Now let me tell you a few things about the Penn State I know and love. Since 1998, Penn State students have raised more than $100 million to fund pediatric cancer research through a yearly event called THON. Each summer, Penn State football players participate in "Lift for Life," which supports research for a cure for kidney cancer. In the wake of the Jerry Sandusky (not Penn State) scandal, students, student athletes and alumni have raised thousands of dollars to aide victims of sexual abuse and domestic violence. These fundraising efforts will continue for many years to come.
Instead of being critical of Penn State in light of these recent events, I'm asking all of you to be part of the solution to a much bigger problem. We must stand up for and protect our children at all costs. This could have happened anywhere. If you are able, volunteer at or support an event sponsored by a child abuse prevention center of similar organization. Support the efforts or organizations that are raising money and/or awareness for victims of childhood sexual abuse. Make a monetary donation to local child abuse prevention organization like the Children's Advocacy Center or Women's Aide in Crisis. Support scholarships for needy students. Do whatever you can to ensure that our children grow up in a loving and safe society.
I am a very proud Penn State alumna and that will never change. As one of the current football players stated, "From the hottest fire is forged the strongest steel." I'll be doing my best to be par of the solution. Will you?