Steubenville Case Forces Parents to Address Adult Issues With Kids

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The need for parents to have candid and ongoing discussions with their kids about sex and humanity has never been greater

The media is seeking fathers of boys to address what went wrong in Steubenville because the rapists are male. It makes sense, but the Steubenville rape victim, like most all rape victims, is not a guy. She is a female who is now scarred for life because a couple of juveniles had no sense of personal boundaries or respect and violated her in a heinous way, and because it is in our modern DNA to record and broadcast everything we see and do. So yeah, a father of girls has a seat at the Steubenville roundtable, too.

More important than which talking heads get to be heard on TV, this ugly Steubenville rape incident and subsequent trial speaks to a growing challenge faced by parents of both sexes. The need to have frank discussions with our young kids, boys and girls, has never been greater. From an early age, there is a new impetus to have conversations with children that, by all rights, should not actually be a part of a childhood experience designed to be about rainbows, cupcakes, and superheroes. But here we are.

The struggle for parents now is to balance the need to open eyes without washing away the ability of those eyes to see the world as a magical place. This sucks for kids every bit as much as it sucks for parents like me who have no real interest in rushing their sons and daughters through their one and only chance at youthful innocence. But here we are.

The idea, at its most basic, would be for actively involved parents to instill in their children a worldview to help demonstrate that they are each a piece of a sort of grand puzzle, and that decorum while navigating your own path throughout that puzzle is paramount. In other words: don’t harm, don’t rape, and don’t be evil, because, cliché or not, we are all in this thing together. And because every single action by every single human being has real ripple effects, some that will continue to ripple for all of time. This is especially true of scoring cheap thrills at the expense a drunken teenage girl. Don’t be evil.

I would argue that it is also essential to inject a healthy dose of cynicism and a real life street sense into the equation of raising a child. This is a slippery slope, as it is here when the mysticism of the world can begin to erode for a child. I cannot stress enough how much this sucks. But I don’t want my girls to emerge from childhood with their heads down, unaware, and unprepared for the fact that there is real evil in the world; like jocks who casually demonstrate a complete lack of respect for another human being. Of course, a 16-year old shouldn’t be wasted, but that mistake does not beget rape. Don’t be evil.

With lessons for girls on college campuses focusing on “how to avoid getting raped” in lieu of the far more appropriate “don’t rape” lectures for boys, the world, it would seem, is increasingly anti-woman.  And so it is more necessary than ever to counteract this disturbing trend by instructing our boys to respect not rape, and to teach our girls to live life with their heads up to see all the rainbows and to never be afraid to kick some ass like a superhero.

This is not how I envisioned parenting my children. But here we are.

♦◊♦

For more on the Steubenville rape case

Steubenville: “It Wasn’t Violent” by Julie Gillis

The Necessary Evil of Humanizing Rapists by HeatherN

 

—lead photo by DACPhoto/Flickr

 

 

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About Jeff Bogle

Jeff Bogle is a stay-at-home dad who writes about parenting and All Things Childhood: kindie music, books, toys, gaming, & culture at Out With The Kids. He is married to an adorable redheaded gal and has two lovely little ladies under the age of 10 who provide him with countless hours of humorous in-home entertainment, and who get to do, hear, see and play with more cool stuff than you can possibly imagine. He considers himself one of the luckiest guys in the world, although he needs to be reminded of this fact from time to time. Jeff also blogs for The Good Men Project.

Comments

  1. Yes, we do need to have on-going conversations with our children about sex. But I disagree that these are “adult issues”. They are human issues. Kids need age-appropriate information as they grow and can process the information. Just as in math or reading or science, education is power. And children need information (power) about their bodies as well. It’s healthy.

  2. Absolutely agree, Brenda, and I wrote the headline. I have no frame of reference because I’ve never parented in another generation, but does it seem like these conversations are starting younger and with greater urgency? Not just because of the ubiquity of social media, but because of some greater cultural shift towards instant gratification for little or no consequence?
    –Andy Rooney

  3. “But I don’t want my girls to emerge from childhood with their heads down, unaware, and unprepared for the the fact that there is real evil in this world….”

    Walking past my son’s middle school I was accosted by 2 JHS/HS aged boys on skateboards (just 2 blocks from my house)….they leered at me (I look young for my age) and one of them said, “You make my pants want to get up and dance…!” I walked past quickly and ignored the comment because I was in a rush to get home…but I thinking back, I should have gotten their pics on my cellphone and reported it to the local school’s principal….

    Last year on Career Day at my son’s middle school, I not only discussed what I do for a living but also about the importance of fighting street harassment (Hollaback!)….and I was pleasantly surprised at how mature and thoughtful the 6th and 7th graders were in response to my discussion….they were more mature than the idiots I have encountered in the streets….

  4. I agree with all you have written. But let’s not forget to also teach our kids about their rights as far as their body goes. We need to educate kids in body safety, also know as sexual abuse prevention education.
    This is my advocacy so please parents go to http://www.somesecrets.info and download a free body safety song and lots of free hints on teaching body safety to your kids . I don’t want to push my own barrow but as a collective, parents, we can do better than this. With 1 in 3 girls and 1 in 6 boys sexually abused before their 18th birthday and with 93% knowing their perpetrator, put your own fears aside and teach your children body safety. It won’t hurt them in any shape or form, but it just might keep them safe. They are so much more vulnerable to grooming and the inevitable abuse, if you don’t!

    • Part of body safety is respecting their bodies, and that lifelong lesson started at an early age will inculcate respect for others’ bodies. The numbers you list are abhorrent and systematic of some larger cultural problem of taking whatever we want without consequence.

  5. Steubenville Case Forces Parents to Address Adult Issues With Kids?? Why is it taking an incident like this to “force parents” to do what they should be doing all along?

  6. Tom B, are you just reading headlines again? Oh, it’s ok, I’ll excerpt the second paragraph to save you the trouble: “The need to have frank discussions with our young kids, boys and girls, has never been greater. From an early age, there is a new impetus to have conversations with children that, by all rights, should not actually be a part of a childhood experience designed to be about rainbows, cupcakes, and superheroes.” It goes on, of course, but if I quoted it all here in the comments then what would be the point of the article?

  7. Necessary and sad. This case has been weighing heavy on my heart. I am a mom to 4 teens (well, one is 21 now…) so I know the challenges. We have to constantly teach and discuss and be there….our kids are bombarded with so much across so many media platforms…sex is trivialized, men and women are objectified, women are victimized on almost every law & order show…ever stop at a red light next to a car blasting rap lyrics that are so horrifying you have to roll up your window? Parenting in this culture is not easy.

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