Jan 01, 2012 David Tyler Uncategorized
Like everyone else in Syracuse, I’ve been following the Bernie Fine molestation saga with a mixed sense of morbid curiosity and disgust. While perceptions about not only Fine but also the alleged victims are mixed, there are a group of innocent bystanders who quietly will be affected, not by abuse itself, but by the faint shadow of doubt that is cast over any adult male who volunteers to work with children.
After the Fine case hit the national news, a letter-writer to a local paper suggested that whether the allegations were true or not, the university was at fault for allowing Fine to be alone with a boy. SU, this writer stated, should institute a policy in which no adult male is allowed to be alone with a child.
That’s the tragedy.
It used to be that male coaches, mentors, tutors and teachers were trusted and thanked by parents who sought out their support. These volunteers looked at it as a way to give back to their communities. Now, because of the deviant actions of a tiny majority, there is skepticism of men who want to work with children, particularly if they don’t have kids of their own on a team or in a group.
Now, by volunteering to coach, mentor, tutor or be a Big Brother, you must accept the raised eyebrows of the parents, the look that asks “Why does he want to help my kid? Is there something he his hiding?”
I’m not suggesting that parents should be anything but protective of their children. They should scrutinize anyone who is influencing their children and they should maintain open lines of communication with their kids so at the first sign of any strange behavior they can act.
But there will be those who shy away from this scrutiny, not because they’ve done – or intend to do – anything wrong, but because they simply don’t want to volunteer for a role in which they aren’t even trusted to be alone with a child.
This mistrust is not wrong, given what has come to light in the past few months. But it’s sad. And the victims, as too often is the case, are the children.
David Tyler is publisher of Syracuse Parent. He can be reached at 434-8889 ext. 302 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.