8 Dec 2011

Child Abuse Awareness has Increased on Campus

Author: Matthew Nye | Filed under: Enterprise Story, Fall 2011, Student Contributor

By Matt Nye

Photo credit: Andy Colwell/The Patriot-News/AP Photo

You walk into the locker room and head into the showers after a long practice. You proceed into the showers and you come across one of your coaches showering with a kid, not a member of your football team, a 10-year-old kid. You are a graduate assistant of a prestigious university, how do you handle this situation?

This is the question, present day assistant coach at Penn State Mike McQuery was faced with back in 2002. He proceeded to tell the head coach, Joe Paterno, but not the police.

A coaching icon in college football is gone. Their president and athletic director are gone. The university was left in shambles because of the allegation against former defensive coordinator Jerry Sandusky.

Which brings up an important question to consider: Is the reputation of a big-time athletic program more valuable than reporting a crime?

The reaction around college sports is that if it can happen at Penn State, then it can happen anywhere, even Bowling Green State University. The awareness has risen at BGSU, but this is something that would happen behind closed doors and the students need to be aware of what to do if they witness a crime.

An incident like this has never happened at BGSU. It is hard to believe that this would happen to BGSU, but if it did happen here, it needs to be taken care of quickly in the right way.

A couple weeks after this incident, director of athletics, Greg Christopher, sent out a mass email to coaches, staff members and athletes of all sports at BGSU. The email entailed his reaction to the Penn State scandal and it served as a cautionary letter letting people know what to do if they see something like this happen at BGSU he said in an interview.

“The awareness has grown throughout the country and throughout the campus,” Christopher said. “There is a key difference between Ohio and the State of Pennsylvania, being that if an Ohio staff member witnesses a crime, they have an obligation to report it.”

Newly appointed president of the university, Dr. Mary Ellen Mazey also sent out an email to faculty, staff, and students. The email contained her reaction to the Penn State scandal.

She said this situation was discussed thoroughly with campus leaders.

“We have open and transparent communications here at BGSU,” Mazey said. “Therefore, we have never had nor do we foresee having a similar situation here.”

James Lambert, director of internal audit and advisory services, said there are many ways to report crimes at BGSU.

“Depending on the situation, there are certainly avenues to go by for reporting an incident,” Lambert said. “Certainly the first action should be to call the BG Campus Police Department if it is an emergency. If it is not, a person could also just give an anonymous tip at our website.”

Captain of the Campus Police Department, Timothy James, said since this scandal has broken out people are more aware of what could happen, even in a community like Bowling Green. He also said what the immediate response should be to witnessing any crime.

“If anything like this happened you should tell your coach, but definitely the first step would be to contact the police,” James said. “If you make a police report we will go and check it out no matter what the crime is or even if it isn’t anything, we will take whatever actions are needed.”

An investigator for Children Services in Wood County, Jennifer Bender said in an investigation for child abuse it is imperative to see the child face-to-face within 24 hours of the investigation. The investigation is only open for 30-45 days, according to Bender.

“We work with the police in these investigations,” Bender said. “We must interview anyone involved with the case, especially everyone in the child’s home.”

Since the Penn State scandal there has been another case of child abuse. It is a case against Syracuse University’s assistant basketball coach Bernie Fine, who has allegedly sexually abused several former ball boys for the basketball team.

He has not  been charged with anything yet, but more importantly is this the future of college sports? It has happened at Penn State and now Syracuse, who is next?

For reporting a crime like child abuse, they should go right to the campus police or the city police. This was Joe Paterno’s biggest mistake… universities around the country do not want to make the same mistake.

Sandusky interview with Bob Costas



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