Did anyone else follow the trial of the two Steubenville High football players convicted of raping a West Virginia teen girl?
In case you’re in the dark, here’s a short version of the disgusting details:
Girl gets wasted on vodka at a party, so drunk she can barely speak. In fact, many described her as like a “dead body.” She leaves the first party with two football players for two more parties that night. The boys carry her by her arms and legs because she can’t walk on her own. Along the way, she ends up puking and naked in the street. She wakes up later without her pants and no idea where she is or what happened to her.
Turns out, what happened had been documented on camera by some other partygoers and posted on social media for all to see, along with bragging by the 16- and 17-year old student athletes who were convicted in juvenile court on Sunday.
(Read the long version by The New York Times here.)
I was glued to the case. Partly because it happened not far from where I grew up. And partly because I’m the mother of a daughter who will one day be a teenage girl.
Everything about this case sickens me. The out-of-control underage drinking. The fact that dozens of people witnessed what was going on and NO ONE did anything to stop it. The social media aspect. The lack of friends who would step in and help the victim (some of her “friends” even testified for the defense…). A massive cover-up to protect two stars of the storied football team (an investigation is ongoing into that…).
So how do we make sure something like this never happens again?
My daughter is just six, but I’m starting to think about conversations I need to have with her at some point.
And I don’t know if “don’t drink” is a realistic starting point. Ideal, maybe. But I went to parties in high school. I’ve had a sip or two of Boone’s Farm Strawberry Hill.
I’m thinking the conversations need to go deeper. Conversations about respect for yourself and others. About responsibility. About how to behave in public and how alcohol can affect that.* About being a good friend. About standing up and speaking up when you see something so incredibly wrong happening. About how as parents we’re going to be closely monitoring what is going on in their social media worlds.
What about moms of sons? Do we need to be as blunt as to say “Hey boys, don’t sexually assault anyone tonight”? Or can we focus on teaching boys to be respectful of women, or maybe even just to other human beings in general? It seems like not one of the boys who committed the rapes or who made jokes while it was happening failed to even recognize that this girl was a human being. How can we teach our boys to just be kind?
What conversations are you having with your kids? And, do you know of a way we can legally lock our children in their rooms until they are 18?
*Please don’t take that to mean I’m blaming the victim. She was indeed a victim. I’m just speaking in general about what we can take away from the events of that night and alcohol was a part.