The media has recently been full of lurid accounts of the Penn State pedophilia scandal. Everyone has an opinion. They range from shock and outrage at the alleged acts and compassion for the alleged victims to indignation at the firing of a football legend.
Perhaps one good thing that might arise out of the media circus surrounding the scandal would be an increased awareness in mainstream culture about this perfect example of the true nature of the classic pedophile. This man, if we are to believe the accusations, exhibited most of the tell tale attributes of those who would defile our children.
He was powerful in his community, a top football coach in a top division one program, second in power only to a legendary coach seen as a type of god at his university. He was respected and trusted, just the type of social status to which the pedophile aspires. He had a supportive community around him which protected him and enabled him to act with impunity, perhaps even when they knew of or suspected his perversions. He had access to the kind of private places where he could carry out his sick deeds. He founded a foundation whose purpose was to mentor young boys, giving him access to any number of vulnerable youth. All of these traits are common to many pedophiles. They seek authority and standing in the community and ready access to potential prey as a rule.
The only way to combat this type of deviant is for society, all of us, to open ourselves to knowing and understanding this profile of the pedophile, the position of authority, the way he assures he has access to prey, the earning of a position of social respect and aura of trustworthiness, the tell tale signs of questionable behavior around young people in public, the network of enablers. These signs can be easily overlooked. We must be diligent but not paranoid in our diligence. A tall order to be sure.
People feared crossing this man. He made sure of that. Neither the young boys or adults around him were comfortable confronting him about his habit of showering with young boys. They feared him. It may be that his sickness partially originates in his own fear. We may never know.
Most importantly we need to speak the truth about and not hide in shame from the reality of this type of cancer among us. If you suspect, cautiously investigate or convince someone qualified to do so. If you witness, report it immediately. Stand up for your moral values. Listen to your children or if they suddenly go through a dramatic change in behavior gently try to elicit the truth from them. This can be hard but parenting is always hard if done properly. Do not remain in the shadows of fear and embarrassment for this is where the pedophile lives and from whence he derives his power. Women can also be pedophiles, however rarely. Do not discount them out of hand for their gender.
Trust but verify.
There are some things about which civilized society must maintain a zero tolerance policy. Among those things pedophilia is one of the most important.