Reporter Joe Drape writes about the conviction of Jerry Sandusky, a former Pennsylvania State University (PSU) assistant football coach, on 45 out of 48 counts of sexually assaulting 10 boys (¶ 1-3). Sandusky was the founder of a charity for troubled youths, The Second Mile, which prosecutors said he “ had used . . . as his private hunting ground scouting for potential victims” (¶ 5). The indictment of the revered coach affected the community even before the trial, with the firing of PSU’s president, Graham B. Spanier, the firing of long-time head coach Joe Paterno, and criminal charges against the school’s athletic director and the administrator in charge of campus police for failing to follow up on reports on accusations against Sandusky in 2001 then lying about it to a grand jury (¶ 4, 9). The article sketches results of the verdict, Sandusky’s history as an admired member of the community, effects on the PSU community, Sandusky’s strange interview before the trial with NBC, and PSU’s most recent reaction to the verdict.
This case has resounding effects not only for the local community of which Sandusky was a member, but also for the nation. The most obvious one is the effect on the college sports communities of the nation. PSU alumni, officials, students, and other major sports schools “ were forced to confront the possibility that the interests of big-time college sports had trumped concern for the welfare of vulnerable children” (¶ 4). Watching and rooting for college sports teams is a favorite pastime for many fans throughout the nation, with sports coaches and team members held up as role models. The sociological impact of this situation as far as sports teams are concerned is to make people wonder if the dollar signs in some people’s eyes are blinding them to the possibility of abuse. This is not to say that every team has an abuser, but people may look more carefully and take allegations more seriously than before when abuse is reported.
People may also become more sensitive about the symptoms of abuse in children and aware of the legal process leading to justice for these children. Pennsylvania attorney general, Linda Kelly, said, “ I think this case has been very significant with the problems associated with child sex abuse cases, and it’s raised a lot of awareness” (¶ 11). A question asked many times about the boys, now men, involved in the case was, why didn’t they say something? As an example, it is difficult for even a grown woman to report a sexual assault or rape because she either fears her accuser or believes that law enforcement will not take her seriously. It should be evident that for a child, these fears would be even greater. The sociological impact of the results of this trial may be that other victims of abuse will see that it is possible for justice to be served, law enforcement will not see such reports as a lost causes, and people lawfully required to report abuse will do so promptly.
Another sociological impact not directly mentioned in the article is that parents may become more aware of the need to educate their children about what kind of behavior is appropriate from other adults and what is not. Young children do not need to be given an entire sex-ed course in order to learn that certain kinds of touching is inappropriate, and that they should tell a parent, teacher, or other trusted adult if it happens to them. They may also encourage children to look to themselves rather than sports or other celebrity role models to judge their own success.
Horrifying as the details of the Sandusky case are, overall the verdict may prove to be beneficial to society. It may cause society to look more closely as to what it deems is important such as sports teams, who it places on a pedestal, and how it deals with reports of child abuse. There were no real winners in the Sandusky case itself, but if there is a chance society makes changes for the better for children and the abused, that will be a fortunate thing.
Drape, Joe. (22 June 2012). Sandusky Guilty of Sexual Abuse of 10 Young Boys. The New York Times. Retrieved 25 June 2012 from http://www. nytimes. com/2012/06/23/sports/ncaafootball/jerry-sandusky-convicted-of-sexually-abusing-boys. html? _r= 1&pagewanted= all