Parents of young people have a lot of explaining to do these days if their kids are exposed to the leading news headlines. For the last two weeks, newscasts of sex-related allegations against Herman Cain and Penn State’s former football coach Jerry Sandusky have been prefaced by disclaimers of potentially offensive or inappropriate content. It is now two days in a row that 7:00 a.m. NBC’s Today Show opens with the Penn State/Jerry Sandusky scandal, immediately followed by the latest damage to Herman Cain’s campaign—which inevitably brings up the allegations of sexual harassment first released by Politico.
It’s hard to ignore the irony, or the sadness, of back-to-back reports of questionable sexual conduct involving two American leaders—a former Penn State football coach and educator; a business and religious leader and presidential candidate. On the matter of guilt, many have differentiated between the eyes of the media, the public and the law, and rightfully so, but the old smoke-fire association has also been raised in these stories.
As the parent of a high-school senior, I often wish my child and his circle of friends took greater interest in what goes on around the country and the world. But for the last two weeks, I have found myself shielding my soon-to-be college student from the news out of Penn State. As is, conversations that pit the costs of college education against employment and other future prospects can leave parents gasping for success stories to inspire their kids. Penn State isn’t helping.