… institutional betrayal is a dimensional phenomenon, with acts of omission and commission as well as instances of betrayal that may vary on how clearly systemic they are at the outset. Institutional characteristics that the authors say often precede such betrayal include:

  • Membership qualifications with inflexible requirements where “conformity is valued and deviance quickly corrected as a means of self-policing among members.” Often, a member making an accusation faces reprisal because of the institutional value placed on membership.
  • Prestige given to top leaders results in a power differential. In this case, allegations that are made by a member against a leader often are met by gatekeepers whose roles are designed to protect top-level authority.
  • Priorities that result in “damage control” efforts designed to protect the overall reputation of the institution. Examples include the abuse scandal at Pennsylvania State University, the movement of clergy to other locations in the face of allegations and hiding incidents of incest within family units.
  • Institutional denial in which members who allege abuse are marginalized by the institution as being bad apples whose personal behaviors should be the issue.
    Science Daily

Fiction Writing Prompt: Write a story about institutional betrayal.

Journaling Prompt: How do you feel about politicians or business people who demonstrate poor ethics and lie about it?

Art Prompt: Institutional betrayal

Non-Fiction / Speechwriting Prompt: Talk about a famous institutional betrayal, especially the behavior that led up to it.

Photo Credit: Penn State on Flickr

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