November 17, 2011

Will Youth be Collateral Damage in Penn State’s Scandal?





      …With the response and action being taken by the funding sources, it appears that the youth being served by the Second Mile agency will become collateral damage…


     Penn State University is a nationwide community. The events surrounding its recent child sex-abuse scandal, therefore, are affecting and splitting an entire nation.

      Because the charges against Jerry Sandusky involve youth(s) from the Second Mile Foundation that occurred on Penn State’s campus, the organization that serves at-risk youth is caught in the net of allegations surrounding the University’s scandal.

     Sandusky founded the Foundation, which hasn’t been charged with anything, in 1977.*


     The parties involved in the scandal have expressed that their first concern is (or should be) for the youth, especially those youth who were victims.    


     Because of the scandal, the Second Mile funding sources and its volunteers are being withdrawn.

     In addition, Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Corbett’s earlier approval of a state grant to the Foundation is being debated.*


     I think that the following questions must be asked and addressed:

  • Who is ultimately being punished by these actions?
  • Are the supporters of the Foundation more interested in protecting their own reputations from the scandal than in serving the youth?
  • Are they making the youth being served collateral damage?

     Perhaps the Foundation should not survive, will not survive. However, if the concern is for the youth their needs must come first. This certainly means that support of the Foundation is necessary until the youth’s needs are properly dealt with. This cannot happen if the Foundation experiences “sudden death”.


     Rather than creating a sudden break from the Foundation, a healthy procedure for the youth’s separation should be designed. Those organizations and individuals funding the Foundation need to ask

  • How can we withdraw our financial and volunteer support with the least additional trauma to the children? 
  • Is this accomplished by withdrawing our funding immediately?
  • How will the “sudden death” of the Foundation affect the youth being served?


     The youth involved in the Second Mile programs are at-risk youth. That means that they have already experienced troubled lives. Some have been removed from families and homes which didn’t or couldn’t protect and nurture them. I cannot imagine how they must feel knowing that the Foundation was likely founded to enable Sandusky to have easy access to at-risk, vulnerable, youth for his own purposes.

     The human service system, designed to protect them from their family and to help them heal and grow, has betrayed that trust.

     The youth need positive relationships and stability. The Foundation is likely a source of healing to most of the youth. To suddenly jerk them out of this situation can only add another layer of trauma to their lives.

     Perhaps the scandal is the death knell of the Second Mile Foundation’s programs. However, immediate withdrawal of financial support, which could abruptly close the programs, cannot be the answer.


     If the Foundation is to continue serving the at-risk youth during this time of trial and change several things are necessary:

  • continued financial support to assure that the interests of the youth are served while the issues surrounding the scandal are reviewed and resolved.—the interests of the youth must be foremost—ahead of the reputation of the companies, the organizations, the individuals, and the state
  • an intense scrutiny of the ongoing Foundation by an independent organization—a scrutiny which includes the relationship of the staff and volunteers to the children
  • a program to heal the youth following the betrayal  caused by the alleged behavior of Jerry  Sandusky; and healing of the betrayal of the persons who didn’t protect them even after the information was known
  • a healthy transference of youth from the agency to their new situation if the Foundation indeed succumbs to the scandal.

     To do anything less will penalize the youth by re-traumatizing them yet again. They should not become collateral damage.





Characteristics of and lures used by child molesters

Characteristics of and lures used by child molesters






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