The news and sports headlines for the last several weeks have focused a lot of attention on NFL running back Ray Rice and his involvement in a domestic violence incident, as well as Adrian Peterson and his involvement in child abuse. The headlines were followed by an explosion of public outrage targeted at NFL leadership and Baltimore Ravens and Minnesota Vikings leadership. The public felt these leaders failed to make morally right decisions initially, then when caught, offered lame excuses and cover ups for their failed leadership, and also failed to mention their concerns for the victims.

As social media outrage and public backlash grew, the leaders from the organizations involved took cover, started working on cover ups and released off-hour responses clearly aimed at protecting their own reputations.

Everyone knows punching a woman and knocking her out cold and beating a child bloody with a tree branch are unacceptable behaviors…right?

Connecting the dots…

Dot #1 – Ray Rice punched his fiancé (now wife) and knocked her unconscious in an elevator. A video showed him dragging his fiancé out of the elevator, and for these actions Ray Rice was punished with a 2 game suspension from the NFL.

Dot #2 – Ray Rice punched his fiancé (now wife) and knocked her unconscious in an elevator. A different video allowed everyone to SEE him punching his fiancé and knocking her out, and this time Ray Rice was fired from his NFL team and suspended indefinitely by the NFL.

In both Dot #1 and Dot #2 Ray Rice punched and knocked out his fiancé. Why were the consequences different? Why wasn’t the morally right decision the same for both situations?

Dot #3 – Adrian Peterson, used a tree branch to beat his 4-year old son until he was bleeding. Adrian Peterson was suspended, then reinstated and then put on an exempt/cannot play list due to corporate sponsors threatening to pull their sponsorship dollars.

If there was video of the 4-year old child getting beat by Adrian (6 feet 1 inch and 217 pounds), would Adrian be fired and facing an indefinite suspension too?

Why didn’t leaders of the NFL, Baltimore Ravens and Minnesota Vikings connect the dots?

Connecting the right dots and making the right decisions…

Preventing domestic violence and child abuse and making morally right decisions should not require a public video before morally right and appropriate actions are taken.

Do we need to see a video of a child looking down the barrel of a shooter’s weapon, before we will take action to prevent school violence?

Do we need to see a video of a child hanging his/her self before we will take action to prevent youth suicides?

Do we need to see a video of a young woman being sexually assaulted before we will take action to prevent sexual assault and violence against women?

No! We need real leaders willing to make morally right decisions and we need the public to step up and be a hero for others in need.

Preventing domestic violence and preventing child abuse (as well as preventing suicide, sexual assaults, other violence, etc.) depends on leaders and the public making morally right decisions. Leaders of schools, colleges and organizations can do their part by making morally right decisions the first time and every time incidents occur. The public can do their part by doing the morally right thing and standing up for women and children and others who are victims of violence and abuse, instead of looking the other way. And to ensure ongoing prevention, victims and aggressors need appropriate awareness because just suspending or banning or firing an aggressor is not going to prevent future incidents and tragedies.

If you agree morally right decisions will make a difference, please share this message with the leaders in your school, your college, your organization and your community.