A courageous step that could protect others
Much of the island is still reeling from the shocking revelation by two outstanding footballers, who are also coaches of repute, that they had been molested sexually as youngsters and now felt the need to tell their story in the hope that in future some child would benefit from better protection.
These two brothers, Andrew and David Bascome, took the bold step in light of recent disclosures by a prominent coach on the island, Maceo Dill, who told the media that he knew of players in Bermuda who had been molested over the years.
It was noted that a number of players in Britain had recently come forward with disturbing accounts of sexual abuse, and that here in Bermuda the full story is yet to be told in what should concern every parent and every club on the island. A degree of caution should always be a factor because there are good, dedicated people who could easily find themselves in the shadow of suspicion without justification.
Many youth football programmes would suffer if volunteers felt they were being painted as a potential threat by that broad brush in a rush to judgment. That certainly is not what the Bascome revelations are about. Those two young men who have a passion for football, and what the sport could do in teaching discipline and skills, are also aware that no child should be exposed to unacceptable activity that could cause permanent damage.
That they placed everything on the line in deciding to confront what must have been a long, dark nightmare of inner torment for years displayed courage seldom seen, even in the most exciting matches. No matter how painful the truth is, unless authorities are willing to confront reality, and act accordingly to protect children from molesters, there will be further dark chapters yet to unfold.
We know the world is far from perfect, and there will never be a foolproof system to protect children from molesters. However, with a greater screening process involving constant monitoring by the proper authorities, there should be a sharp decline in such incidents. Even that would be a giant step in helping to protect children.
Not too long ago, Penn State endured a great fall from grace as one of America’s leading institutions when word spread that Jerry Sandusky, a former assistant coach, had sexually molested players in the shower facilities. There was an uproar when it became known that top officials knew, but kept silent to protect the coach and the university.
Eventually, the guilty were sorted out and punished, but not before victims told their stories. The legacy of the late Joe Paterno was irreparably sullied.
In countries throughout the world, people have used the power of authority in devious ways to commit acts against common decency. There are efforts on a global scale to deal with molesters, even though the subject is far from pleasant.
Here in Bermuda, the alarm bells have sounded and the entire island can ill afford to turn a deaf ear to cries for change in having youth programmes more closely monitored for the safety of volunteers and our young people.
It will take more than the Government, the Opposition and community leaders to break the cycle. Much of the work really should start in the home where most children should be taught about life in a world we all know can at times be dangerous.
The entire island needs to have the courage to face this problem with renewed commitment to keep good values at the centre of trying to build a stronger society.
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