The Role of the Media in Abuse Scandals
What is the role of the media in a scandal like this? Fox25 showed the damaging images on television news. Is it right? Does this do more harm than good? Should I post details as they emerge? Am I doing more harm than good?
I am well aware that media reports are traumatizing to victims who are involved. This is why in my initial public statement I paid particular attention to the alleged victims. I am also aware that when the Catholic church abuse scandal broke out, I was terrified, because I was a victim. When my abuser was named and details of my abuse were made public on the newswires, it was intensely difficult. I understand this response by victims.
However, there is a larger societal issue to consider. If we merely sit by and let the justice system quietly proceed without the media, what do we learn as a society? Why, we must ask, does the DA's office issue press releases in the first place? Why was our paper, The Stow Independent, able to access the Connecticut court documents so easily? Surely justice officials see the important role of the press.
The media is what caused the whole church abuse scandal to become what it was and changed the statute of limitation laws, "reformed the church", and found some justice for victims. Without the media there is no outrage. There is no change.
Do I think parents get it? Do they need people like me posting about it? Honestly, I think some don't get it. I understand some parents don't want to think they put their kids in a potentially abusive situation. I have seen people not face things and sweep abuse under the carpet. Often. I understand human beings' capacity to want to rationalize things that are difficult. Denial is strong. The catholic abuse scandal was not met initially with belief. It eventually triggered outrage and people spoke up and had rallies and affected change. It became so big it seemed it was all people talked about for at least a year.
There is a societal healing that takes place from talking about what is uncomfortable. Talking and sharing brings the abuse out of the darkness and into the light where it should be. If we are silent, if we do not talk to one another about what is going on, then what chance do we have to come together and make a statement on behalf of our community and stop the scourge of abuse of our children that is at least as prevalent today as it ever has been?