September 16, 2021- Yesterday, in the halls of Congress, four undaunted women stood for a photograph, after testifying before the Senate Judiciary Committee. The matter was the abject failure of organized gymnastics, the United States Olympic and Paralympic Committee and the Federal Bureau of Investigation to either protect girls and young women from abuse by their coaches, trainers and the team physician, or to properly investigate charges of such abuse and bring the perpetrators to justice. It took reporters from The Indianapolis Star to bring matters to light, and thus empower these physically and sexually battered women to stand tall and speak.
We have, as a species, a duty to our young. We have, as a species, an obligation to do all in our power to help them find and develop theirs. Children and teens are not playthings, nor are men and women, for that matter. The bad old days when children “were to be seen and not heard” are gone-and good riddance. Had my parents told me, or my siblings, to put up and shut up, I might not be alive to write these words. I was loath to stifle our son from thinking independently and I observed my siblings raising strong, independent thinkers and doers, as well. The tradition extends to their grandchildren, and will to mine, when they come along.
I have been involved with young people for forty-five years. I made most of my mistakes and unlearned several limiting behaviours, whilst working with Generation X and Millennials. My work has been quite a bit more polished with Gen Z and the Alphas. One thing I did not do, ever, was approach a child or teen with my own gratification in mind. That has been the basis for a career that focused on safeguarding the abused and tortured.
Simone Biles, McKayla Maroney, Maggie Nichols, and Aly Raisman are genuine heroes, but they should never have had to be, at least not in the way they are after coming forward. These women should have been able to stand tall on the merits of their athletic prowess, not on the precipice of their survival. Yet, for all that, I am immensely proud of anyone who stands up and speaks truth to power-especially as an entry into her/his/their path of healing.
Human beings are not playthings, not now, not ever.