An honest man is always a child, said Socrates.

To be a child is to know that you know very little. And to continually be surprised by the things you learn and the people you meet. To be naïve. To Trust.

Most of us are children, and thank goodness for that.

But we're being let down by the adults.

The issue of trust is collapsing all around us as we stagger from scandal to scandal and watch venerable institutions crumbled and deified sports heroes toppled.

In the past month alone, we've seen a sixty year sentence handed down to a remorseless paedophile who levered his position of trust at one of America's most storied sports programmes, Penn State, to prey on the most vulnerable.

We learned how Jerry Sandusky's employers, colleagues and friends long-suspected his despicable behaviour but stayed collusively silent or actively protected him as he abused scores of young boys. We learned of a decades-long trail of broken lives and devastated victims masked by the veneer of a respected charity - the Second Mile.

And we've heard repeated denials.

We've learned of the complex web of drug-taking deceit spun by one of the world's most recognized athletes. A man, Lance Armstrong, who literally rose from his deathbed to achieve the pinnacle of his sport's achievement - not just once, but seven times over. A man who raised more than half a billion dollars for cancer research and spawned an iconic charity symbolised by ubiquitous yellow bracelets and sponsored by the world's biggest sporting goods company.

But also a man who bullied, lied, cheated and conspired to commit perhaps the most egregious act of sporting betrayal in history masked by the veneer of a respected charity - Livestrong.

And we've heard repeated denials.

We've learned of a secret file kept by the Boy Scouts, the nation's oldest and best-loved youth club, containing the names of 1,247 men suspected of using the century-old institution as a way in which to target and molest young children.

We learned that despite the file, the staggering list of names and the 20,000 pages of information, the police were rarely contacted. And we only know of the file only because the Boy Scouts of America were forced to release it under order of a federal judge.

And we learned how that same institution denied a 17-year old boy its highest order - Eagle Scout - because of his sexual orientation. All masked by the veneer of a respected charity - the Boy Scouts of America.

And we've heard repeated denials.

We've also heard that the BBC, perhaps the most famous broadcaster in all of the world, may have wilfully ignored the "grave" allegations that one its star presenters was a serial abuser and might have supressed a news investigation that was set to reveal exactly that. We learned that the scandal, originally thought to involve one now-dead celebrity famous for his good works and charitable deeds, has now reached and "unprecedented scale", according to London police, that involves 400 lines of investigation and more than 200 witnesses.

All masked by the veneer of a respected charity - the Jimmy Savile Charitable Trust.

And, of course, we've heard repeated denials.

Trust takes years to build but only seconds to be destroyed. And the damage it leaves in the rubble is costly.

Institutions define the way we construct our society. Without them - and the collective faith we give them - we descend from functioning civilisation to self-interested chaos.

That's why this litany of deceit is so damaging.

What faith do we have that our fifth estate will vigorously hold our government to account if it can't be trusted to protect woman and children from systemic depravity? How can we send our children to be taught and mentored if we can't have faith that they won't also be abused?

How can we cheer our heroes and marvel at the achievements of will and determination against the steepest of odds if we can't be sure that it came from tip of a needle?

The answer, of course, is that we must.

We know what we don't know, but we do know that exceptions do not disprove the rule.

We know the truth: most athletes aren't cheating, most volunteers aren't abusers, most journalists are seeking to report the truth. Charity work isn't a cover for the worst deeds imaginable.

We know this because we're children. And we're honest.

But that's a hard truth to believe right now.