Every parent has an obligation to teach their teen about the Steubenville rape trial. Boys need to be taught that this kind of behavior -- which they might think of as a joke or not serious -- is, in fact, sexual assault and a criminal offense that could ruin their lives and the life of their victim(s). It's not enough that parents raise their boys to "respect women" -- although that's certainly a good foundation.
But get a bunch of teen boys together, add peer pressure, adolescent hormones, and plenty of alcohol, and suddenly the precious little boy you think you raised so well may not be so well-behaved after all. But parents of teen girls have an obligation too. And I'm going to get in trouble for saying this, since there seems to be a backlash against saying this type of thing for some reason, but teen girls need to be warned of the dangers of consuming too much alcohol.
I am NOT saying that a girl who consumes alcohol to the point of passing out is fair game or anything of the sort. What I am saying is that teens may simply have no idea the effect alcohol consumption can have. I know I didn't!
At 16, I was invited to the house of a boy I went to school with. His parents were not home yet from work. It was me, and about five other boys and five other girls. The host boy got out a bottle of vodka and passed around shot glasses.
I had absolutely no idea what kind of punch of a little shot glass could have. The teen boy poured round after round of vodka into our shot glasses, I downed shot after shot, thinking, These tiny little glasses are nothing. I probably downed about five or six shots, and the vodka didn't taste like anything, and I had zero idea that such little glasses could get you drunk. I thought maybe I'd get a little "buzzed" at most.
I was massively wrong. About 20 minutes later, the booze hit me. I slumped to the floor nearly unconscious. Then one of the teen boys got on top of me, straddling me and holding down my arms and legs. I couldn't fight him. I could barely speak. I glanced around the room and realized all of the boys were on top all of the girls -- and all of the girls were in the same boat I was. I heard some of the girls moaning and saw them weakly and unsuccessfully trying to get away.
I have no idea how I managed to escape. But the next thing I knew, I was running out the back door and through the woods. I found my way to the office where I had an after school job and called my mom (no cell phones back then), who came and picked me up. As I lay in the back of the car, groaning and moaning, I merely told her I was "sick."
Since then, I've always wondered what happened to the girls that day. Did they manage to escape too? Were they raped? The next day at school, the girls were acting normally, so I pushed it out of my mind and never questioned them, especially since I didn't know them very well. At 16, I wasn't taught about sexual assault. I just knew that something bad was going to happen and I wanted to get away from that house and those boys. It never occurred to me to report the incident.
I'm haunted by what may have happened, but reluctant to track down the women and inquire went on that day. If they were raped, would that mean that I could have prevented it if I'd called the police? Would they hold that against me? Would they even remember that day?
After that incident, I didn't need a parent to tell me that drinking too much was a bad idea. At every party I attended for the rest of senior year, I didn't drink. Which made me a very popular ride home.
But I'm glad I didn't learn that lesson the Steubenville way. I know how I was as a teen -- I know that if I'd been warned that even a little booze could put me in a dangerous situation, I would have listened. Not all kids would, but I would have. Parents, talk to your kids. Before it's too late.
Do you talk to your kids about alcohol and sexual assault?
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