A Paterno resignation would a good start, but not enough

If Joe Paterno resigns as the head football coach at Penn State, it is a good start. However, it is nowhere near enough. Voluntarily giving up your high-paying, prestigious job under pressure isn’t a sufficient penalty for endangering the physical and mental wellbeing of children and won’t do enough to deter such cover ups in the future.

This is an opportunity for Paterno and others to learn from their failure to protect the most vulnerable members of our community and model personal and public responsibility. 

  • First, Paterno should demonstrate the leadership and moral character he demanded of others during his long coaching tenure and that he insisted upon from his players. When the safety of children was at stake, Paterno failed to embody those values. He can be a model of accountability and change by educating himself about child sex crimes from survivors, their families, law enforcement, child advocacy organizations and experts.  He can then take a public and proactive role in changing those elements of sports culture – at every level – that encourage, conceal or permit sexual violence.
  • Second, Paterno should step forward and publicly support and urge the passage of legislation such as the Pennsylvania Child Victim’s Act, which will prevent more children from suffering abuse at the hands of predators like Sandusky.
  • Third, Paterno must assure victims and their families that the he and the university are working with victim advocates in law enforcement offices to make sure that the best medical and treatment care is being provided to those harmed by Sandusky. 

It is encouraging if Penn State holds Paterno accountable and makes him resign his position. It is necessary, however, that Paterno hold himself accountable and takes the steps above as well as other steps to help these victims heal and to prevent similar abuse and cover up in the future.

Paterno’s career as a football coach may be over soon. But his time as someone who can do something to protect children in the future should just be getting started. 

Finally, whenever his career ends, let’s all show some sensitivity and compassion for those kids who were hurt because of his mishandling of the Sandusky case. Let’s not rub salt into their wounds by waxing eloquently about Paterno’s professional achievements. His on-the-field success is now sadly and appropriately dwarfed by his off-the-field failure.

Showing 10 comments

  • Peter Isely
    followed this page 2011-11-11 00:49:06 -0600
  • Robert Karaffa
    commented 2011-11-10 16:36:32 -0600
    Glad to see that people are outraged that the leadership of Penn State patterned its actions after those of the Vatican, and also happy to see that the Board of Regents of Penn State acted swiftly and correctly.
  • Ed Carroll
    commented 2011-11-10 13:36:24 -0600
    Paterno’s ouster is evidence that the secular world still ultimately holds people accountable regardless of their position. Paterno’s stature or other good works did not matter when evidence arose of this awful crime. Why is this not the case with the numerous Catholic bishops who helped priests rape children?
  • Mark Belenchia
    commented 2011-11-10 12:27:17 -0600
    I just read the Grand Jury report on this matter. It is remarkable how these ‘beast’ operate. This story is a trigger as Maggie indicated but, as survivors we have to use that energy to move forward and vow that we will do everything possible to see that these crimes are reported. Then keep the heat on and on until action is taken…… This is a requirement of my mere survival…. It is a part of my everyday life!
  • Mark Belenchia
    commented 2011-11-10 10:54:34 -0600
    The Penn State leadership needs to quickly move into action as far as their student body is concerned. This is one GREAT example of people who are completely miss-informed. This has NOTHING to do with the damn football program! These are crimes that kill the growth of a human being’s very personality and leave people crippled for life. Do your job: EDUCATE!
  • JoAnna Zachman
    commented 2011-11-09 14:57:12 -0600
    I hear that the board is voting to oust the president of the College also. A good move. Enough of the good old boys network of protecting each others jobs at the expense of the abused kids.
  • Steve Zupcic
    commented 2011-11-09 14:22:38 -0600
    What about the culpability of University President Graham Spanier who was informed of the rape of a 10 year old child in the Penn State locker room and did not inform law enforcement officials? He also needs to be held accountable. Right now Paterno is little more than his fall guy.
  • @watchkeep mentioned @ link to this page. 2011-11-09 11:58:36 -0600
    A Paterno resignation would a good start, but not enough http://t.co/h0Q6nf9n via @SNAPNetwork #psu #paterno
  • @Rizzz mentioned @ link to this page. 2011-11-09 08:47:27 -0600
    A Paterno resignation would a good start, but not enough http://t.co/7O9kHXnW via @SNAPNetwork #FireJoePa
  • Peter Isely
    published this page in Official SNAP Media Statements 2011-11-08 16:27:18 -0600

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