Members of the Paterno family say the only way to find meaning in the Jerry Sandusky case that rocked Penn State is to use it to bring more attention to child protection efforts.
It’s the first time, said a spokeswoman, that the Paterno family has spoken at a child abuse awareness event since convicted pedophile Sandusky was arrested nearly a year and a half ago.
Jay Paterno, son of Penn State’s late head football coach, joined his mother, Sue, at the breakfast organized by the Pennsylvania Family Support Alliance, an organization that trains people to recognize signs of child abuse.
Paterno said if he had received training earlier, he might have been able to stop Sandusky, who is now serving a 30- to 60-year sentence for sexually abusing young boys.
Everyone, not just professionals who work with children, should learn to recognize signs of child abuse and neglect, Sue Paterno said.
In the months since Sandusky was arrested, she said her family has been praying for peace of mind for those who were “too naïve” to recognize signs of child abuse.
“Why were we so unaware? Why didn’t we see signs? And why did we never talk about child abuse?” she said.
Joe Paterno, who died last year, was fired by the Penn State board of trustees shortly after the former Nittany Lions defensive coordinator was arrested.
He insisted, as does his family, that he didn’t know of Sandusky’s criminal behavior.