Why Officials at Penn State Didn’t Alert Police

Thanks to Sunshine for sending me this link:

“As a Penn Stater, I am angry.

As a man, I am embarrassed.

As a Men’s Health editor, I am curious.

You’ve heard the allegations: In 2002, now–assistant coach Mike McQueary witnessed former Penn State defensive coordinator Jerry Sandusky, then 58, sexually violating a 10-year-old boy in the coaches’ locker room shower. McQueary told his father as well as head coach Joe Paterno, who passed the buck to athletic director Tim Curley, university vice president Gary Schultz, and university president Graham Spanier. Sandusky’s “punishment”: He wouldn’t be permitted to bring kids onto campus anymore.

If the allegations are true, this much is clear: They’re all at fault. McQueary knew exactly what he witnessed and didn’t call 911. (Why hasn’t he been fired yet?) The others either knew and are covering it up, or didn’t ask the right questions.

Here’s what isn’t clear: At least six men could have called 911. Not one did. Why?

Why didn’t anyone call the police?

It starts with the obvious: “People don’t want to be pulled into conflicts with others,” says Roy Lubit, M.D., Ph.D., a forensic psychiatrist in New York who treats victims of sexual abuse. “They especially want to avoid potentially difficult situations in the future, like going to court. So they tell themselves it’s not their business, or they cannot be sure what is going on, or convince themselves that someone else will take care of it.”

The psychiatrist is right. But he neglected to say how entirely selfish this is, and how ugly it is, and how morally criminal it is. How can society expect child sexual abuse to stop, when society itself is a huge part of the problem?

“But this situation is more complicated than that. “Organizations are also very self-protective,” adds Dr. Lubit. “The number-one rule is, Don’t embarrass the organization. Whistle blowers are often treated very badly.”

Okay, but Sandusky wasn’t caught stealing Cap’n Crunch from the dining hall. And these are, by all accounts, good men who know right from wrong—and had very little motivation to protect Sandusky, who’d retired three years before….”

Here is the author’s first mistake. He assumes that these are all “good” men. Why does he assume this? Because they are employed by Penn State? Because they wear a coat and tie? Are they “good” men because they have a wife and kids, or because they go to church? Does the author of this article truly think that church-going, suit-wearing, fathers who have a good job are incapable of being bad human beings? –Self-centered pigs, who care more about protecting their own buddies than kids. Or maybe even child abusers themselves, or men who have had those kind of fantasies?

“I met Tim Curley when I worked in the Sports Information Office as an undergrad. Great guy. Paterno has five kids of his own, and made mentoring young men his life’s work. Doesn’t seem to have an evil bone in his body. McQueary, Schultz, Spanier . . . they all seem like good, honest men.”

The word “seem” is the key here. Nothing is ever completely what it appears to be.

“The human mind has the capacity to spin anything to suit what we want to believe,” Dr. Lubit goes on. “So you make excuses to yourself. ‘There must be some other explanation.’ ‘He just made a mistake.’ ‘He’s helping those kids more than hurting them.’ ‘He’d never do it again now that he’s been caught.’” Psychologists call this motivated bias—the tendency to believe what’s convenient to believe.

Another factor: cognitive dissonance. Sandusky seems like a great guy. “That made it harder to believe he was doing bad things,” says Dr. Lubit.”

Thank you Dr. Lubit. He is correct. Humans see with the mind, not with the eye.

Milgram Study 1963

“Why didn’t the assistant coach do more?

There’s another massive psychological roadblock in place here. Humans are programmed to not question authority, Dr. Lubit says. Men are especially hierarchical, particularly when they work in organizations made up largely of other men. To McQueary, Sandusky was an authority figure, which may explain why he didn’t go directly to the police.”

This is correct, and the many experiments, like the Milgram Experiment, show how most people will do anything an authority figure tells them to do -even hurt another person.

“And men are even less likely to rat out an authority figure when that person is also a mentor. “Mentors are very important to young men,” says William Pollack, Ph.D., an associate clinical professor in the psychiatry department at the Harvard Medical School. “When that mentor turns out not to be the person you thought he was, it makes you question who you are as well. If he’s a bad guy, and I’m in his image, then who am I?”

This is not true. The Milgram experiment and others like it, showed that even women did whatever the authority figure told them to do –even shocking another person with electricity while they screamed.

“Pollack says that after McQueary reported what he saw to Paterno—perhaps he gave every graphic detail, perhaps he sugarcoated it—he likely felt that he’d done all he should. He trusted Paterno, the ultimate authority and mentor of the organization, to handle it. Or not. “If Paterno’s actions suggested this wasn’t a big deal,” says Pollack, “in McQueary’s mind maybe it wasn’t. Maybe he was wrong to be so upset about it.”

And by nothing happening to the perpetrator, it tells him, “go ahead and rape little boys because it’s okay with us and nothing is going to happen to you.”

“Since men seem more predisposed to protect each other and their organizations (see “Church, Roman Catholic”), I wondered if a powerful woman might have reacted differently. Dr. Lubit says maybe. In Milgram’s experiment, both men and women equally ignored the screams of the actor. But: “In a sexual abuse situation, women are more likely than men to identify with and protect the victim,” he says.”

I guess I have to write to Dr. Lubit and inform him of the high rate of women who do nothing to stop their own child from being sexually abused in their own home. Studies show this to be at least 44% of mothers.

“Also, female groups tend to connect around doing the right thing. “When women get together,” says Pollack, “they assess what the right or best thing is, and then decide as a group how to accomplish it.”

Not in my family. Not in the vast majority of the families that I have spoken with, or that I know personally, and certainly not according to research.

I think this is merely wishful thinking, or what this doctor thinks women do.



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5 Responses to Why Officials at Penn State Didn’t Alert Police

    • Alethea says:

      I can see the young guy being afraid for his football and college career. I can also see him not really believing or understanding what he saw, so he went to his dad. Fearing for his career is more likely to be the answer, but if it is the latter, it might be be like seeing an act “too monstrous to believe.”

  1. SurvivorSunshine says:

    ““Also, female groups tend to connect around doing the right thing. “When women get together,” says Pollack, “they assess what the right or best thing is, and then decide as a group how to accomplish it.”

    Not in my family. Not in the vast majority of the families that I have spoken with, or that I know personally, and certainly not according to research.

    I think this is merely wishful thinking, or what this doctor thinks women do.”

    Not in my family of origin, either. If anything, some of the women were the perpetrators and abusers, while the men were silent partners. They chose men that could be hen-pecked and were docile and nonconfrontational. Well, except my father. Which is why a war began between my mother’s family and my father’s family. The women involved did NOT take kindly to being challenged by an aggressive man so they wanted to take him down a peg or two. And my paternal grandmother wasn’t going to allow her only son to be challenged by a group of women. She conspired with him to plan my mother and brother’s murders. All of those women were Malignant Narcissists and unsafe.

    • little nel says:

      I agree Alethea and Sunshine,

      It was all about “the illusion of control” and “image” with the women in my family. They didn’t “tend to connect around doing the right thing” either, if they ever did it was all lip service.

  2. little nel says:

    Boy, do I feet dumb, I thought that they failed to report the abuse because they believed that they had a choice to “report or not to report.”

    Do all mandatory reporters in positions of authority that seem to be “good” men have “psychological roadblocks” to overcome before they can make a choice to report abuse as mandated by law?

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