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December 20, 2014 / 28 Kislev, 5775
 
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It’s My Opinion: Protecting Our Children

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Former Penn State assistant coach Mike McQueary recently testified in a court hearing against ex-Penn State assistant coach Jerry Sandusky. The testimony he gave before the jury was sickening on two counts: He described witnessing the alleged details of a sexual assault on a minor child and he admitted he was not vigilant in exposing what he saw. The incident, according to McQueary, took place over ten years ago.

Sandusky had been a greatly admired man. He headed a popular youth charity that funded camps and projects focused on at-risk kids. The coach was a stellar figure in the community.

Despite stunning testimony by McQueary and three alleged victims, Sandusky denies the charges. He is accused of abusing 10 minor children over a 15-year span. He is charged with 52 criminal counts involving these alleged assaults.

McQueary said he went to head football coach Joe Paterno the day after witnessing the incident and to Penn State officials a week later. He spoke of being vague and non-explicate when explaining the incident.

“Mind your own business” has become a catch phrase of contemporary culture. We all have our own troubles. We all have our own worries. We hesitate adding to them.

The Jewish nation has another take on the issue. The Torah admonishes that we cannot “stand idly by.”

Most educators and youth leaders are fine and dedicated individuals who care about the youngsters in their charge. The impact that they have on young lives can be incredibly positive.

A minority, unfortunately, gravitate to children for other reasons. Their impact is always devastating.

We are now in the more relaxed summer season. Children’s activities are less structured. Sleepovers, field trips and camp experiences are the standard. Parents, grandparents and administrators need to be especially vigilant.

Let your children know they can and should go to you with anything that makes them uncomfortable. Let your children know they can say “no” even to an authority figure. Keep the door of communication wide open.

About the Author: Shelley Benveniste is South Florida editor of The Jewish Press.


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