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Organizational Ethics and Sex Scandals at Penn State and the Citadel

Tuesday, Nov. 15, 2011

"I think this is a pattern which is not surprising," Kirk Hanson, executive director of the Markkula Center for Applied Ethics told CNN reporter Ashley Hayes about coverups of abuse at Penn State and the Citadel. "Institutions would like to find a reason that they don't have to publicize their own failings. ... Institutions too often substitute their own interests for the interests of the victims. This is an institutional ethics problem, in general."

Hayes' article explored the kind of institutional culture that can tempt people to ignore abuse.  As Hanson commented, 

"As word of misbehavior goes up the chain of command, each level will have the temptation to sweep it under the rug," he said. "And they can frequently be pressured to ignore the behavior. ...

"What you hope will happen in the future is that anyone who witnesses a child being molested will take the personal responsibility to make sure the authorities are called and not just report it to the institution."