Friday, November 18, 2011

The freak

I’m sure you’ve heard of the whole Penn State/Paterno/ Sandusky mess. I think the two most chilling stories I read were about (1) Penn State students rioting over Paterno being let go and (2) the story about the grad assistant who saw something, reported something but not until the next day and then . . . nothing?

I think I’m the freak here.

I have reported people for things done against those who have no recourse, not something I think happened or something I suspected happened but events I saw. Here are my bona fides:

  • I reported a woman whose children slept in urine-soaked playpens who were also fed mold-infested food.
  • I confronted an “abusive” man berating a woman at Murphy Hall at KU. That ended up being some freaky theatrical experiment and when I figured that out, I hauled ass into their little debrief and confronted them about the dangers posed by pretending to be abused when in fact they were not.
  • Last week I stopped a tiny, no more than three year old girl from being hauled down a super long escalator by her slightly older big brother. I think her mother was pissed but too bad. I’ll take pissed mom over injured kid any day, thanks anyway.

So I don’t understand why on earth Paterno didn’t do more. For that matter, WTF, grad assistant who saw the inappropriate shower. What were you thinking? Were you afraid your career would be damaged? How about the life of the boy in that shower, did you think about that?

At this point, I'm OK with being the freak.


sabrina said...

AMEN! how is it that the "man" (who at the time was 28) is being let off the hook for not reporting a serious offense to the police??? where is the accountability?

while, i (thankfully) have not witnessed anything to report, i have sat by some kid while i wondered where his parents were just to make sure no stranger decided to steal him, kept tabs on kids running wild in an airport because just because they made it past TSA doesn't mean they can't take your baby with them and have been the stranger who asks "are you ok?" when I think something isn't right.

the kids rioting over Penn State need to take a look at what's important in life...and it ain't football.

So, AMEN to reporting the wrongs in this crazy world and being a freak for it.

kd said...

This summer at an amusement park a 6yo girl was lost and crying. I stood there with her to comfort her, and when she wanted to have me help her look for her grandmother I said no. I'm a stranger and you are not to go anywhere with a stranger. We will stand here, at the last ride you were on, until your grandmother finds us. Which she did. Great lesson for MY 6yo who hung with us.

kittiesx3 said...

I'm not the kind to insert myself in others' lives but if someone, child or adult, is in danger or being threatened by another person, well I'm not going to just stand there and watch. Don't get me wrong, if a gun is involved, I'm dialing 911. Otherwise yeah I'll say something.

Ronald said...

I've been thinking about the Paterno situation because I'm the recipient of a lot of hearsay. Most of it turns out to be not at all true, or spun all out of proportion. If I acted as if every thing I was told was the truth, I would harm a lot of people and be very unpopular.

Hindsight is 20/20, of course. In hindsight, Paterno should have urged the graduate assistant--the eye witness--to report what he saw to the police. He should have done everything up to and including driving him to the police station. But I don't he should be vilified for not going directly to the police with hearsay evidence.

Elizabeth, I think your instincts and your actions are right on the money--if you see wrong, you take action!

But I think we cannot assume hearsay and rumor have the same "truth value" as what we see with our own eyes. The exception is whether it is your responsibility to investigate--if it is, you must act on hearsay. In my job, I am the investigative officer for computer security incidents. If a student mentions she heard about a computer hacking incident, I investigate. If a student mentions bad behavior by a faculty member, I urge her to report this to the proper authority.

I'd like to know if the athletic director, Joe Paterno's boss, had a responsibility to investigate the incident.

kittiesx3 said...

Yes, I agree with you about the dangers of hearsay. I won't take action based on a rumor or someone's instinct. I've read too many reports of lives being ruined by accusations based on nothing but a wisp.

I also agree with you about Paterno. He didn't see the event, but he was told about it and yes, I think he should have done everything possible to get that grad assistant eye witness to report what he saw to the police.

I don't understand the grad assistant's lack of action at all--and again, I will add the caveat that it appears he didn't do anything based on news reports. So who knows, maybe he did and maybe no one wanted to hear what he said.
What's clear is that those kids were not protected by anyone.

lemming said...

There seem to be some conflicting reports about what the TA did and did not do. Apparently (hearsay) he has told teammates that he did separate the two. Some reporters have noted that what we know is mostly based upon the report which (hearsay) was more interested in who knew what and when. I'll let the jury, so to speak, be out on that one for a bit.

Normal grown men do not shower with underage boys, period.

I'm with you on the need to interfere appropriately when you see someone at risk and in need.