I hope the kids who are fighting for their lives – in Florida and beyond – are watching what's unfolding at the United States Olympic Committee.
Chief executive Scott Blackmun resigned on Wednesday, Feb. 28, done in by his committee's abysmal handling of the Larry Nassar sexual abuse case.
Students fighting for sensible gun control – in Florida and in schools around the country – should take heart: Your voices create change.
You'll fight far too long, and the toll is far too steep. But it won't be for nothing.
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Larry Nassar's victims, of which there are hundreds, started speaking up decades ago. Grown-ups ignored them. They kept speaking. Grown-ups kept ignoring them. They kept speaking.
Louder and louder, more and more of them, until finally they were speaking in a court of law, where we could no longer pretend not to hear. Not to know what they endured.
They refused to stay silent and they refused to stop believing in a better way forward.
Now Nassar is in prison for 40 to 175 years. The entire board of USA Gymnastics and its president have resigned. The president of Michigan State University, which employed Nassar, has stepped down.
Calls for Blackmun to resign intensified after the Wall Street Journal reported that a USA Gymnastics leader told the USOC about Nassar's behavior in 2015. He did.
And equally important, measures are now being put in place to prevent the breeding and enabling of another Nassar.
Susanne Lyons, acting CEO of the USOC, released a statement after Blackmun stepped down spelling out the body's efforts to prevent athletes from being abused: Funding and resources for support and counseling for Nassar's victims; an advisory group to bring together survivors, advocates, child psychologists and other medical professionals to enact stronger safeguards; the hiring of more investigators and staff to speed along resolution of existing cases and provide age-appropriate training on recognizing and helping to prevent abuse.
The old way of doing business is over, and the athletes who found the courage to speak out – despite decades of being shushed and shamed – deserve full credit.
So it is with sensible gun control. The Parkland, Fla., survivors launched a movement, and it hasn't been seamless. The state legislature voted down an amendment banning assault weapons. Critics have sent the survivors death threats. They've chastised them for smiling in photos and speaking their minds to authority figures.
It must be exhausting and easy to lose hope.
They shouldn't. We're seeing signs of progress already: Companies cutting ties with the National Rifle Association. Dick's Sporting Goods refusing to sell assault weapons and raising the age limit for gun sales. Nationwide marches planned on March 14 (the National School Walkout) and March 24 (the March for Our Lives).
I wish it didn't cost so much. I wish they didn't have to suffer in order for us to pay attention.
I wish we cherished our children, each of them, with the fervor and energy they deserve. I wish we were better, frankly.
But they push us there. They're brave and they're fed up, and that's a fantastic combination. And it works.
It takes too long, but it works. Just ask Larry Nassar's loud, brave survivors. We're all in their debt.