I think back to another family whose names I can not remember. Chuck and Joanie....something. Chuck and Joanie were friends with my uncle and grandparents. They had little children. I did not spend a lot of time with the kids, but there is one instance I remember so clearly. So painfully clearly. Shortly after my uncle died Chuck and Joanie brought their children over to my grandparent's house. All the kids went in the back to play, in the room that had been my uncle's.
Their oldest son was younger than me, maybe seven? six? I'm not sure exactly. What I am sure about, sure to the bottom of my heart, is that child was molested.
The past two days my mind has been filled with thoughts of that boy, his younger brother and sister. We sat in the back bedroom, and his conversation was full of sexual things. Thoughts and statements and ideas that do not belong to a child.
I emailed my mother to see if she remembered their last name. I want to find those parents. I want to tell them what I remember. I want to know if their kids, grown up by now, are okay. I want to tell them I'm sorry. Sorry I never told. Sorry I didn't stop it from happening. Sorry I couldn't protect their kids.
This is why, when I see people complain on facebook that Joe Paterno should not have been fired "in this way" and that he "did what he should have done by reporting the situation to Curley and Schultz" - I feel my stomach knot, and I want to scream. Because I was nine years old, sitting in that back bedroom, not knowing how to stop the madness I was witnessing, and not having come to terms with the things that were done to me. But Joe Paterno was a grown man. A man who could have stopped a monster from raping more children. And he didn't do that. He.did.not.do.that.
If you know or suspect a child is being abused, please call your local police, or the National Child Abuse Hotline at 1-800-4-A-CHILD.