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Posted at 10:10 PM ET, 11/11/2011

Obama calls Penn State scandal ‘heartbreaking’

SAN DIEGO — In his first remarks about the child sex-abuse scandal at Penn State University, President Obama called it “heartbreaking” and said it should prompt “soul-searching” across the country.

Obama made the comments to ESPN interviewer Andy Katz during a live televised interview while he attended the Carrier Classic basketball game aboard the USS Carl Vinson on Friday.

In the interview, the president said: “Well, obviously the whole situation is heartbreaking. And we think, first and foremost, of the victims of these alleged crimes. But I think it’s a good time for us to do some soul searching — every institution, not just Penn State — about what our priorities are, and making sure that we understand that our first priority is protecting our kids, and we all have a responsibility -- we can’t leave it to a system, we can’t leave it to somebody else. Each of us have to take it upon ourselves to make sure that our kids have the love and support and protection that they deserve.”

During halftime, Obama gave an interview to sportscaster Jim Gray on Armed Forces Radio. Gray asked if the scandal-- in which a longtime Penn State assistant football coach is accused of sexually abusing young boys even after Coach Joe Paterno and others on campus learned about it — was revealing of a larger problem in the culture of people failing to step forward.

“I don’t think it says something about our entire society, but I think what it does say is you can’t just rely on bureaucracy and systems in these kinds of situations,” Obama replied. “People have to step forward. They have to be tapping into just their core decency. When kids are being mistreated -- when anybody is being mistreated -- all of us have to step up. We don’t leave it to somebody else to take responsibility.”

By  |  10:10 PM ET, 11/11/2011

 
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