As my children grow older, I’m forced to confront something terrifying: I will not always be able to protect them myself. I can try to make good decisions about who I let them spend time with and where they go. I can attempt to teach them about the dangers of the world. I can do a lot.

But I can’t be with them 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year.

Next year we’re planning on sending our older two to public school (we currently home school). At some point they will probably go to sports camps or summer camps. If I’m going to let them grow in a healthy way, they will need to be stretched, and part of that process involves heading out into the world without me.

This is why I’m depending on you. All of you.

If one of my sons is detained and led into a side room by someone who looks shady to you, I’m depending on you to follow them in and see what’s going on. If one of my daughters is standing on the sidewalk talking to someone in a car, and she looks uncomfortable, I need you to ask her if she’s okay.

If you’re at a sports camp or a summer camp and you see something inappropriate, I need you to find me and tell me about it. I need you to tell your superior about it. I need you to raise hell about it because these are kids for God’s sake and they can’t protect themselves.

* * * * *

I don’t know what went down with Joe Paterno at Penn State. I have a huge soft spot for the guy, and I loved the program.

But if someone went to him and told him that they saw an older man having sex with a young boy in a shower on campus (or even anything remotely close to that), and he didn’t tear down the walls of that school trying to find out what happened, then he let us all down.

The children of this world cannot get by only with the help of their legal guardians. They need other adults looking out for them: teachers, coaches, mentors, and friends.

Please. Don’t just report what you see. Pretend that child is yours. And act accordingly.