The Conspiracy of Inaction on Sexual Abuse and Harassment

The Conspiracy of Inaction on Sexual Abuse and Harassment

By David Leonhardt, NOV. 5, 2017, The New York Times

I caught the journalism bug in high school. I was fortunate to be a scholarship student at a rigorous New York private school with a weekly newspaper, and some of the older students I admired taught me the power that the written word could have.

When we complained verbally to teachers or administrators about a problem, they could ignore us. When we put our arguments in writing, they tended to pay attention. So we became teenage crusaders, inveighing against perceived injustices. Sometimes, the subjects were sophomoric (“censorship” of the talent show), but often they were serious (inequality, racism, South African divestment).

Three decades later, I look back on the experience with deep gratitude. I also look back with haunting regret.

For all of our crusading, we ignored   . . . 

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  • commented 2017-11-07 14:21:13 -0600
    We cannot become complacent!
    The taboo regarding sexual abuse is speaking out about it. Society doesn’t want to believe such things can occur in our culture, so silence and secrecy are encouraged. Survivors capable of challenging that taboo are met with doubt and disparagement. Good people convince themselves what that they suspect could not be happening, or someone would have said something.
    In this climate of denial, the burden is on survivors to fight feelings of guilt, shame, and fear and stand up to the institutions where the guilt and shame belong. Institutions use their vast resources to denigrate the motives and credibility of those who dare tell what happened to them.
    The multiplying effect of social media makes it impossible to deny this epidemic any longer. More victims take courage seeing others come forward and perpetrators get exposed.
    Yet, with all this attention, we have barely scratched the surface of the problem. It’s systemic requires all people to get involved. We need to pay attention, not just to salacious news stories, but look at how institutions spend millions of dollars to lobby politicians to block the bills that would reform statutes of limitation on child sex abuse. We must ask why they are putting their own reputations and bank accounts above the welfare of the children they are entrusted to protect.
    It is right that we are outraged by what we see in the news these days, but nothing will truly change until we realize what we see is just the tip of the iceberg.