The Penn State child abuse scandal has been all over the news this week. It's heart-breaking, it's infuriating, it's scary. I hope that justice will be done, that institutions will learn, that further abuse will be prevented. Most of all, I hope that regular folks everywhere will be reminded of the high and holy privilege of we have, of protecting the precious innocence of children.
My friend Heather put a couple of stats up on her facebook status this morning:
93% of children are molested by someone they know.
88% of cases are never reported to the police.
Here are a couple more:
1 in 4 girls will be sexually abused.
1 in 6 boys will be sexually abused.
Stop and think about that for a minute. 1 in 4 girls. 1 in 6 boys. By people they know.
A friend of mine once told me that she just couldn't understand how nobody knew what was happening to her as a child. "Couldn't they see it in my eyes?" she asked me.
I was reading a New York Times editorial about this yesterday. The author mentioned a study in which disturbing images were mixed with non-disturbing images, and put in front of the test subjects. Test subjects who had stated they would be disturbed by particular images, would not even allow their eyes to look at those images when they appeared. They knew the images were there! They just wouldn't look.
It makes me wonder how much the adults in my friend's world suspected. It makes me wonder what I "know" is there, and what I am not willing to acknowledge.
Flannery O'Connor says (and I'm wildly paraphrasing here) that Christians tend to run around trying to make the world seem better than it really is. But in fact, we should be the ones who are most able to look at the world and be honest about what it really is. We know it's evil. We know it's all headed for hell in a handbasket.
We also know that there is a provision of grace, powerful to redeem.
And it is not just God's job to be about redemption. He invites us, the church, to participate: to be a light, to bring hope, to be a place of safety and refuge in a dark and scary world. My kids used to sing this little Scripture song: "Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good."
If you suspect child abuse, overcome evil with good. In Texas, you can call this hotline number, anonymously: 1-800-252-5400. Of course you can always call 911.