The verdict is in but the story about the two Steubenville high football players convicted of raping a West Virginia teen girl continues to make headlines. More recently two high school football players in Torrington, Conn., were charged with assaulting a 13-year-old girl, and the alleged victim has been menaced on social media as a ‘snitch,’ according to a report.
As a mother of two young sons, I cannot imagine what was going on in
the lives of the football players to make them treat a women or girl in
this manner. As a woman, a daughter, an aunt, a sister and friend to
women with daughters, I’m equally curious as to how an underage girl
could be put in this situation.
I don’t understand the alcohol
consumption, I don’t understand a teen party with no adult supervision,
and I don’t understand why there’s no curfew for these kids who were out
As a victim, my heart continues to break because I know the life-long ramifications of sexual assault.
There are no easy answers to a story as complicated and tragic as the
Steubenville case. Everything about it outrages and saddens 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…) and what
seems to be a massive cover-up to protect two stars of the storied
Where were all the people that were supposed to look out for these
young people and navigate them through the trials and tribulations of
the teenage years? Teachers, coaches, parents, neighbors, pastors, etc.?
Even though this isn’t my world, it is the world for a lot more
people than I’d like to imagine. The selfish answer is for me to worry
about only what’s mine, to make sure that my sons are always at
chaperoned events and that I have face-to-face meetings in advance with
any adults that are supervising them. I can also continue to demand
that they respect all people, but women in particular. I can take them
to church and make certain that they’re spiritually and morally
I can judge the parents of the teens involved and wonder why they haven’t done the job that I might have done.
Or, I can realize that I can’t control every aspect of our lives,
that there will be times when even the best of moms can’t nail down the
exact locations of our kids. They can leave home with some one trusted
and end up visiting someone who makes you raise an eyebrow. They can be
minding their own business and become the target of someone who just
doesn’t like the way they’re dressed or the way their hair is cut. They
can be with family members or friends who flip out or they themselves
can have a lack of good judgment that could lead to the unthinkable,
just as it did for the teens who may have to be listed as registered sex
offenders for life.
All children need to be taught that there are boundaries and where
exactly those boundaries lie. If we’re only teaching our kids the rules,
it doesn’t help so much when the kid with a whole different set of
values shows up.
So instead of looking down at families who find themselves in the
kind of peril these teenagers are in, how about looking outward and
trying to have a positive influence on as many young people as we can.
It happens through mentoring and all of us have a chance to take part in
all kinds of ways. There are children who have to look much too far to
find someone worth emulating, too many boys who need a male to explain
how girls and women should be treated and too many girls who need a
female to explain what kind of treatment is unacceptable. We can’t solve
all the problems of the world but I know for a fact that making a
difference in one small way can change someone’s life.
If you’re part of a mentoring program shout it out or if you’ve been
mentored by someone who has a positive impact on your life, let’s
celebrate them right here. We have to stop talking about the village it
takes to raise a child and start creating that village before it’s too