By now the scandal at my alma mater, Penn State University, is well known by everyone in America who does not live under a rock. It is a horrendous story of the worst kind of abuse, a man using his position and power to abuse children. Like most others connected to PSU, I have never been less proud of my alma mater. It is a dark time. My prayers are for the victims of this crime.
A lot has been said about what various people knew and when they knew it. Legendary coach Joe Paterno apparently fulfilled his legal duties in reporting whatever the witness (graduate assistant at the time, current assistant coach Mike McQueary) told him. But the consensus at this point seems to be that those charged with crimes (Curley, Schulz) and those innocent of any crime (Paterno, McQueary) did not do enough with the information they had. They should have done more.
Why didn’t McQueary, 28 years old at the time, step into the shower and stop the abuse? He surely could have taken a fifty-something Sandusky, or at least done enough to help the kid get away.
Why didn’t Paterno follow up, at the very least ask why no police ever came and interviewed him?
They should have done more.
Last night I attended a meeting of FREE (Freedom and Restoration for Everyone Enslaved). It is a local group whose purpose is to raise awareness of human trafficking in Berks county and the world and to motivate people to work to end human trafficking. The speaker was Dr. Victor Joseph, reporting on his research on Indian women who had been rescued from prostitution, studying their “psychological and emotional stages in a post-brothel setting, and also…the impact of forgiveness and futuremindedness on their lives.”
Dr. Joseph talked about how many people in small Indian villages are in massive debt. Men visit the village, tell families there are jobs for their young daughters as housekeepers in big, faraway cities. These young daughters, as young as six or seven, are sold by their families to these men. The daughters go willingly, thinking this job will provide money they can send back to help their families get out of debt. The truth is, these men are recruiters for the sex industry and in a matter of days these young girls will be working on the street, forced into prostitution and being raped dozens of times a night.
Listening to Dr. Joseph speak I could not help but compare the situation to what is happening at Penn State. In the last few years I have made an effort to educate myself about human trafficking. I know a lot about the horrors in the world. Do I do enough with what I know?
We are quick to question Penn State officials about what they did or did not do. Rightly so. But the uncomfortable truth is that what Mr. Sandusky did to those boys happens every single day to thousands of boys and girls around the world.
It does not just happen in other countries. Estimates are that 100,000 American children are forced into prostitution each year. The average age of entry into prostitution is 13. This means that a large majority of prostitutes who are over eighteen did not choose that lifestyle, instead they are victims of child rape.
Pornography plays a huge role in this. Women forced into prostitution have reported they have been filmed. The pornography industry feeds the trafficking industry. There are loads of horror stories about the pornography industry (go here).
What happened at Penn State is horrible and I pray for justice. I hope the victims find restoration and the guilty are punished. But as the questions swirl of whether those who knew did enough, I hope that those asking the questions look at their own lives.
We know women and children are forced into prostitution throughout the world and even in our own neighborhoods. What are we doing to stop it?
We know pornography uses and abuses women, breaks up marriages, and destroys lives. What are we doing to help those enslaved?
I could go on: we know millions in the world do not have access to clean water, we know tens of thousands suffer from AIDS and other diseases, we know that many starve to death daily while we live within a few miles of more food than they will ever see in a lifetime.
I know and I am guilty of not doing enough.
Now you know too.
The words of the prophet Isaiah (58:6-10)
6 “Is not this the kind of fasting I have chosen:
to loose the chains of injustice
and untie the cords of the yoke,
to set the oppressed free
and break every yoke?
7 Is it not to share your food with the hungry
and to provide the poor wanderer with shelter—
when you see the naked, to clothe them,
and not to turn away from your own flesh and blood?
8 Then your light will break forth like the dawn,
and your healing will quickly appear;
then your righteousness will go before you,
and the glory of the LORD will be your rear guard.
9 Then you will call, and the LORD will answer;
you will cry for help, and he will say: Here am I.
“If you do away with the yoke of oppression,
with the pointing finger and malicious talk,
10 and if you spend yourselves in behalf of the hungry
and satisfy the needs of the oppressed,
then your light will rise in the darkness,
and your night will become like the noonday.