Last month two fifth-graders were arrested for plotting to murder their classmate. As if that wasn't horrifying enough on its own, the story has taken a darker turn. According to the prosecution, one of the Fort Colville boys was also plotting to rape their victim.
The boys will stand trial in juvenile court for first degree conspiracy to murder. As part of the evidence submitted during a mental capacity hearing, the prosecution presented a handwritten plan consisting of seven steps. The boy apparently described the rape as a show of "power and strength," not as a sexual thing. But then, psychologists will tell you most rapes are really about power. Regardless, how depressing that rape is even on these kids' radar, much less in their plan.
It's another example of how pervasive our rape culture is. These are still children, as monstrous as their intentions are. You would hope kids could hold onto a tiny shred of their innocence a little bit younger. I'm trying to remember how old I was when I first learned there was such a thing as rape, though, and I was probably around the same age. And now I'm sure their intended victims' nightmares are going to get even worse.
But I think for most kids, rape is imagined (hopefully only ever imagined) as something that happens to you. It would take an extreme mindset to imagine yourself at the age of 10 or 11 as someone who could commit rape. To actually identify oneself as a rapist! How does a kid even make that leap? It makes me wonder what has already happened to the kid. Maybe he's been a victim of sexual abuse himself. Clearly he's feeling weak and powerless in his life to go through such extremes.
I know that ultimately only these two kids can answer for their actions and their plan. But every time a young person does something horrible, or even plans something horrible, I have to think the blame extends to their community: The people raising them, the adults failing to pass on values and ethics, and ultimately our violent culture.
How old do you think most kids are now when they first learn what rape is?
Image via KB35/Flickr