Mar
17
2013

What parents might learn from the Steubenville rape case

At this point in my life very few things cause an instinctive terror response. The Guy Fawkes masks donned the by the international hackers group Anonymous has the effect — maybe it’s the soulless eyes, or the overall look of a maniacal clown. A few weeks ago, I woke to that image as CNN ran a video of someone behind that mask explaining why they’d hacked private websites and E-mail accounts to expose the rape of an adolescent at a high-school party in Steubenville, Ohio. My reaction to the mask paled in comparison to my reaction to the cell-phone video of an unconscious girl apparently being violated by laughing boys WHILE OTHER KIDS STOOD BY! Oh – and the boys were star high school football players —-sorry, but I can’t feel  surpise at that!

This video of this disgusting act was shot last August, so this is not ‘news’ in that sense. Witnesses had posted photos, videos and twit-pics which were found by former Steubenville resident and blogger Alexandria Goddard before they were removed from the private accounts,  She  turned over to the police anticipating an investigation. Not much happened at first and blame appears to fall on the cozy relationship between members of the law enforcement community and the football coach. Then Anonymous blew the lid off this whole sordid affair, making it public and stating that they will not allow “a group of young men who turn to rape as a game or sport get the pass because of athletic ability or small-town luck.”

Then came the community hand-wringing — we heard the usual crud. How could this happen in such a nice town? The alleged rapists were ‘good boys’ who made a bad choice, or the girl should not have been drinking. We heard all of that and more at the trial, and a news commentator cause a stir when she suggested that the boys lives were ruined as well by the verdict.

Really.

Wake up people! It’s the adults who failed here! They sent their kids out into the social world unprepared. Adolescents are fundamentally unable to make wise decisions. Their brains aren’t fully developed, they lack impulse control, they lack empathy but one thing they do not lack is sexual urges. Adolescents need adults to set limits, set standards and keep them in check! It is our job to coach kids into healthy, productive adulthood, not to reward violent, aggressive and selfish behavior. Parents need to be darn sure that their child understands the meaning of mutual consent (for example to having sex, or to being photographed nude and unconscious)  and how important that is for moral reasons, and not just legal ones.

There’s a lesson here for parents. Kids need limits. Kids need to be taught empathy until it’s naturally part of their consciousness. Kids need to know that their sexual arousal is theirs and theirs alone. Kids need to learn that sex is an expression of love and not a drinking game.  Too many parents assume that their kids are getting these lessons from school or their faith-based organization, and statistics show that this is just not true.  Parents must find the courage to be uncomfortable and fill their kids with their family values about sex and  accurate information how bodies, minds and hearts, and start  early.   I wrote The Sex-Wise Parent to help parents do that.

Caring people everywhere must speak out and change the norms of communities everywhere that tolerate adults sponsoring drinking parties and protecting sexual predators. Our kids  — boys and girls —deserve more. And, adults who tolerate violent behavior and support underage drinking should be ashamed of themselves and prosecuted as accessories.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

At this point in my life very few things cause an instinctive terror response. The Guy Fawkes masks donned the by the international hackers group Anonymous has the effect — maybe it’s the soulless eyes, or the overall look of a maniacal clown. This morning, I woke to that image as CNN ran a video of someone behind that mask explaining why they’d hacked private websites and E-mail accounts to expose the rape of an adolescent at a high-school party in Steubenville, Ohio. My reaction to the mask paled in comparison to my reaction to the cell-phone video of an unconscious girl apparently being violated by laughing boys WHILE OTHER KIDS STOOD BY! Oh – and the boys were star high school football players —- can you guess where this is going?

This video of this disgusting act was shot last August, so this is not ‘news’ in that sense. Witnesses had posted photos, videos and twit-pics which were found by former Steubenville resident and blogger Alexandria Goddard before they were removed from the private accounts.  She turned this material over to the police anticipating an investigation. Not much happened at first and blame appears to fall on the cozy relationship between members of the law enforcement community and the football coach. Then Anonymous blew the lid off this whole sordid affair, making it public and stating that they will not allow “a group of young men who turn to rape as a game or sport get the pass because of athletic ability or small-town luck.”

Now comes the community hand-wringing — get ready to hear the usual crud. How could this happen in such a nice town? The alleged rapists were ‘good boys’ who made a bad choice, or the girl should not have been drinking.

Really.

Wake up people! It’s the adults who failed here! They sent their kids out into the social world unprepared. Adolescents are fundamentally unable to make wise decisions. Their brains aren’t fully developed, they lack impulse control, they lack empathy but one thing they do not lack is sexual urges. Adolescents need adults to set limits, set standards and keep them in check! It is our job to coach kids into healthy, productive adulthood, not to reward violent, aggressive and selfish behavior. Parents need to be darn sure that their child understands the meaning of mutual consent (for example to having sex, or to being photographed nude and unconscious) and how important that is for moral reasons and not just legal ones.

There’s  more lessons here for parents. Kids need limits. Kids need to be taught empathy until it’s naturally part of their consciousness. Kids need to know that their sexual arousal is theirs and theirs alone. Kids need to learn that sex is an expression of love and not a drinking game. Too many parents assume that their kids are getting these lessons from school or their faith-based organization, and statistics show that this is just not true. Parents must find the courage to be uncomfortable and fill their kids with their family values about sex and accurate information bodies, minds and hearts, and start early. It’s not easy — that’s why  I wrote The Sex-Wise Parent , to help parents.

Caring people  must speak out and change the norms of communities everywhere that tolerate adults sponsoring drinking parties and protecting sexual predators. Our kids deserve more and we can  and must give it to them.

And, adults who tolerate sexual violence and support underage drinking should be ashamed of themselves and prosecuted as accessories. There’s a lesson in that too!

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