Child Abuse And Mass Media Essay

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As some journalists have brought up, this scandal is evocative of the scandal with the Catholic Church and demonstrates how a marked upheaval in the way universities and institutions are conducted (Hamilton, 2012). The media, while impartial, can often be a moral compass for the rest of the world. Few people can forget the horrors of the reactions of Penn State's college students when the scandal just broke, upon the firing of Joe Paterno: the media captured how the students rioted the streets, acting out, even turning over a news van. The rest of the world watched in revulsion: these college students, by sympathizing with Paterno, someone who had essentially protected and sheltered a pedophile, these young college students were sympathizing with Sandusky, the pedophile in question. "It's difficult to look at the images of the Penn State University students performing pep rally chants and turning over a media van to protest Joe Paterno's firing and not think: Shame on us all. Shame on us for creating a culture where thousands of students are so caught up in idol worship that they can't see how repugnant it is to pine for a man who essentially looked the other way as serious allegations of rape and child abuse were leveled at his top aide" (Pierre, 2011).

It was important for the media to document this and to capture this footage so that the rest of the country could unite up in arms, voicing their outrage at this reaction and the sunset of decency that had occurred at the school. Even though the community at Penn State was not expressing initial outrage at what had occurred to the victims, but rather what was happening to their beloved football coach, the media, by recording this unsatisfactory reaction, helped to create a national situation that realigned the moral compass on behalf of the victims of the scandal.

When it comes to child abuse and such a complex case as the Penn State scandal, the media can also summarize and educate the general public about how to spot potential pedophiles and how pedophiles establish rapport with potential victims, even if they don't do so overtly. For example, much of what Sandusky did to his victims in the beginning stages was classic behavior of pedophiles:...

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Most said they enjoyed gifts and special attention from Sandusky. Some said they saw him as the father they never had. But what began as a mentoring relationship escalated into the physical abuse, the accusers testified. Some said they were assaulted in the basement of the Sandusky home. Others described soapy showers that included forced sex acts" (Muskal, 2012). Being aware of how what seems like innocent behavior can escalate into abuse is crucial for parents and educators to know.
In conclusion, the media has a powerful part to play when it comes to exposing incidences of child abuse. The media can educate, build public outrage and reset the moral compass of the world at large, creating real venues for change.

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