Penn State and My Seven Year Old

My mother asked me a few days ago if I was going to blog about the Penn State scandal. I said no. I want people to enjoy reading what I write, to come to my blog knowing they will leave with a smile of a shared experience, as if we just chatted over a cup of coffee.

But less than an hour later, I changed my mind. Because Penn State came into my house.

And now I am mad.

My seven year old has a friend who just turned eight. And today, he told my seven year old in very frank terms about the Penn State sex abuse scandal. He heard it from his nine year old brother’s nine year old friend while they shared a pizza.

So when I think about what happened in, and to, the Penn State community, I think about it as the mother of young boys who shouldn’t have to hear about such things. They should not be trying to figure it all out with their other seven year old friends, looking to the ones they believe are the wisest for answers a child cannot give.

And then I think of the children to whom such atrocities have happened. And I think of their mothers. I am angry merely because my kids have to know such perversity and evil exists. I cannot imagine if the hands of evil got any closer.

I do not blame the seven year olds or their nine year old brothers or their parents who are as appalled as I am. I blame the criminals. I blame the people who turned a blind eye in the name of their own careers, an organization’s reputation, or school spirit. I blame the students who defended a coward just because he wins games. I blame the news agencies for playing the story again and again with details we do not need to know, though I do want my children to learn that is right to speak up and speak out.

Right now, my kids are watching an episode of the Backyardigans. That is how emotionally young they are. And yet I am trying to figure out how to talk to them, if they ask, about things they are not ready to hear. I want to protect them from what could happen, without forcing them to grow up too fast with knowledge that I have trouble comprehending myself.

I wish the news agencies and the school administrators and the cowards who did not stop this madness could have heard the story told by a boy who is only eight to his friend who is only seven.

I wish I could have stopped the story from being told in my house of children.

I wish there was no story to tell them.