National abuse scandals cause community to reflect

By Jake Dziubla
Round Table online-editor-in-chief

Penn State University and the University of Syracuse have both been rocked by the scandals that have sprouted from their sports programs. While it may be obvious that the scandals have shaken the foundations of these schools, the scandals have also caused those in the Middletown community to reflect.

Jerry Sandusky, the former Penn State defensive coordinator, faces 40 counts of sexual abuse of several young boys over a 13-year period. Bernie Fine, the assistant head coach of the Syracuse men’s basketball team, is under investigation for child molestation.

Since the scandals, people have been questioning the morality of people in positions of higher power, as well as themselves.

Rena Egan, a guidance counselor at MHS and former social worker, said that it is not uncommon for certain individuals to “gravitate towards positions of authority” in order to gain easy access to children.

Egan also noted that the abusers tend to be more males than females and that children are “not valued” by society as much as adults or people of power or popularity. Egan said the reason that abusers aspire to become people of authority, such as priests, is that they have easy access to children and that they earn the trust of children and parent.

Egan believes that “men’s codes” contributed to the communication breakdown amongst the Penn State elite.

“As a woman I would’ve been so enraged. I would’ve immediately helped,” said Egan.

Men are slow to aid in these situations due to their specific values, Egan said.  For example, perhaps to Paterno the lives of the abused may not have been as important as the depth of his coaching staff and the success of the football program.

Championship-winning, head varsity football coach Kevin Lynott believes instances such as thePenn State and Syracuse atrocities are caused by “mentally disturbed individuals.”   These “sick” people obtain a position of power that “unfortunately, taints their profession,” he said.

“I hope that (the scandals) are isolated incidents,” said Lynott.

Lynott, like Egan, noted that these situations occur in every walk of life and that the athletes are not the cause of such atrocities.

“It has nothing to do with the athletes,” said Lynott.

Gathered in a circle, the students of one of MHS basketball coach Tim Leber’s athletic coaching classes spoke their minds and offered their own personal opinions.

Sophomore Ben Spector believes positions of power undoubtedly correlate with abuse.

“They’re in control; they can do anything they want. They have the power. It should be up to the people to stand up,” said Spector.

Tisa Mullins,  junior, suggested that thorough background checks should be conducted during the interview process when hiring coaches or other positions in which adults are given the responsibility of children.

According to an article from www.npr.org, after Sandusky retired in 1999 following an investigation by the Pennsylvania Department of Welfare, he was still given access to Penn State facilities, including the showers in the boys locker rooms.

 Mitch Sgrignoli, sophomore, points to this false sense of security that people placed in Sandusky.

“Everyone around him trusted him,” said Sgrignoli. “It’s your word against their word.”

Sophomore Tristan Wenger believes that the safety of children should be handled as a “worst-case scenario” and that proper preventative steps always be taken when dealing with children.

“Working with kids is a huge responsibility,” said Leber.