It’s been a sad news week for kids from coast to coast. Here’s a sampling:
In Pennsylvania, numerous kids allegedly were sexually abused over a period of years by an assistant football coach because officials at Pennsylvania State University, including the university’s head football coach, apparently didn’t alert authorities when they had the chance. To its credit, the university fired the officials who failed to report the alleged crimes. To add to the sadness surrounding this story, students at the university — adults (supposedly) — are now acting like kids (spoiled rotten little punk kids) and vandalizing the campus in protest. No, they’re not upset that university officials apparently looked out for themselves and looked the other way (literally) as vulnerable young people were harmed (if the students were protesting that, it still wouldn’t be right to do so by destroying public property, but I could at least comprehend the motive). Instead, the students are apparently upset because the head coach who got fired had won a lot of games. Now, here’s my psychological analysis of that particular motive: Any adult who thinks that winning games excuses not doing everything in one’s power to stop the sexual abuse of children is too stupid to deserve a degree from Pennsylvania State University. And if such an adult also destroys public property to demonstrate his/her preference for football over public safety, then he/she is not just behaving stupidly but also sociopathically. In that case, instead of waiting for him/her to wash out of the university by stupidity alone, I’d recommend that the university go ahead and kick him/her out now along with the coach.
In Kansas City, the older half-siblings of “Baby Lisa” have reportedly, finally, been interviewed by authorities about what happened on the night of the infant’s disappearance. You may recall that these interviews were supposed to have taken place weeks ago but were stalled by the parents. No word yet on what these kids were able to tell authorities, but considering that they were being asked to recall the events of a night that is now more than a month ago, I’d expect that the value of the information obtained is less than it could’ve been. It’s a chilling thought, but that may very well have been the reason why the interviews were stalled, precisely so that the kids’ memories would be fuzzier. I feel sorry for all three kids involved in this case, the missing one and the two siblings.
And finally, in Washington, a toddler “disappeared” from his mother’s unlocked car after she supposedly ran out of gas and left the child in the car alone while she walked to a gas station. Once again, though, it sounds like there are starting to be inconsistencies in the mother’s story. For example, law enforcement reportedly has determined that the car’s gas tank wasn’t really empty when the mother reportedly left it. Again, this is chilling, but the mother’s account of what happened is strikingly similar to the plot of an episode of the TV crime drama Law and Order, SVU that apparently aired the prior night. And, the father (who’s divorcing the mother) reportedly told police that the mother had struggled with homicidal dreams of killing the child. It’s not looking good, for the child or the mother, and if you’ve been paying attention to the names of the kids involved in these stories since I wrote about them last year (see “What’s in a Name?” in the archives, dated 10/10/10 ): “Sky.”
Now, to end the week on a topic other than kids in peril, how about…the global economy in peril?:
Every once in a while, I write about behavioral finance, i.e., the effects of psychology on the economy. These past couple of weeks have been replete with examples of behavioral finance in action on a global scale. One day markets tank because investors fear that Greece’s collapsing economy will have increasing ripple effects on the economies of other countries. Then the next day, the same markets soar as investors hope that the European Union has come up with a bailout plan for Greece. Then the next day, the same markets tank as investors fear that the bailout of Greece isn’t guaranteed to happen. Then the next day, the same markets soar as investors’ hopes rise again. Then the next day, the same markets tank as investors’ fears turn to economic woes in Italy. It’s been a semi-daily roller coaster, with emotion-driven gyrations that are significantly wilder and significantly faster than the fundamentals of the global economy can realistically change . It’s almost as if the global economy has developed a rapid-cycling bipolar disorder! (Just by the way, in case you happen not to be a regular reader, this persistent market instability…I predicted it here, and I predict now that it’s going to be a while before investors’ collective emotions attenuate appreciably, i.e. fluctuate less drastically from day-to-day). And finally, a related pet peeve — I’m sick of hearing spokespeople from various interest groups claiming on national television that their constituencies are “disproportionately affected” by the current economic chaos. As you may know, an asteroid passed by Earth this week, a relatively close call in astronomical terms, and if that asteroid had been predicted to collide with Earth and wipe out the entire human race, I swear some of these people would’ve been on the air claiming that their constituencies would be “disproportionately affected.”
Here’s thanking all of our veterans on this Veterans Day and wishing all of you — equally — a stable and enjoyable weekend!