“Many of the things we learned during this trial that our children were saying and doing were profane, were ugly . . .[Parents need] to have discussions about how you talk to your friends, how you record things on the social media so prevalent today and how you conduct yourself when drinking is put upon you by your friends.”
Judge Thomas Lipps
Sentencing of Steubenville, OH
A profound tragedy that unfolded in Steubenville, Ohio last summer when teenagers and alcohol collided across one night has come to a sad and senseless conclusion (http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/03/17/steubenville-rape-trial-verdict_n_2895541.html). A young girl’s faith in the decency of people she thought were trustworthy when she made herself vulnerable has been shattered. Two young men lost touch with their humanity while in the grip of the power to humiliate fueled by sexual desire. Classmates succumbed to a riot of cruelty and callousness masked as humor and gossip. Friends valued loyalty over an acknowledgment of despicable behavior and the importance of redressing a terrible wrong. And adults who were mentors and role models were too uncomfortable, too conflicted or too accepting of criminal behavior to hold adolescent violators accountable.
There are many questions raised by the events of that summer night for your teen to consider. You need to know their answers to either be reassured or disturbed by the work you have ahead of you to guide your kid back to being worthy of living in civilized society.
What’s a parent to do?
Sit your kid down for a serious talk. Have them read a summary of the events surrounding the Steubenville, OH rape http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/03/17/steubenville-rape-trial-verdict_n_2895541.html. Ask both your daughter and your son these questions.
Alcohol and drugs
What are your plans for using alcohol, marijuana or other drugs?
Why do you think that people are much more likely to be sexually assaulted, engage in unwanted sex or regret having sex when they are drunk?
Tell me all the things you risk by having sex with someone when you or they or both of you are under the influence of alcohol or drugs.
What would you do if a girl/guy who was obviously very drunk wanted to have sex with you?
Sexual decision making
What are the circumstances under which you are going to have sex (e.g., marriage; old enough; in a strong, committed relationship; first chance I get)?
How can you tell if someone really wants to have sex with you?
What would you need to think about if you were considering having sex with someone you just met or didn’t know very well? (Don’t stop at the religious or moral reasons.)
What would you say to someone who is trying to pressure you into doing something sexual?
What are some of the ways you could be charged with sexual assault? (in addition to the obvious reasons there is also 1) if they say “no” or show they don’t want to and you have sex anyway, even if they seem to be in agreement and 2) if the other person has even the smallest amount of alcohol or a drug including marijuana in their system at the time, even if they don’t say no.)
If you say no but another person still does sexual stuff with you, did you give consent? Why?
What do you think about having sex with someone who was too drunk or high to really know what they were doing? [For high school kids: Has that ever happened to you?] What kind of person would that make you?
If you are really drunk and agree to have sex, is that a choice? Why?
If someone takes advantage of you when you are really drunk and hardly able to push them off do you think that is assault? Why?
What are the problems with taking sexually explicit pictures of yourself? Of someone else? (embarrass yourself; embarrass your family; reputation; possession/distribution of child pornography even if it is of yourself even if someone just sends it to you)
Do you think it is OK to take explicit pictures of a girl who was obviously drunk or even unconscious? A guy? Why?
When is it OK to take explicit pictures of someone else?
How would you respond to someone showing you that kind of picture?
What would you do if your friend was being put in an undignified position (e.g., drunk and exposed)?
What does it mean to respect yourself?
Do people have to earn respect? Should you only be respectful to people who haven’t earned it?
What do you think of a girl who does sexual things with different people? What about if it is a guy?
What is the respectful thing to do if you find out someone has done sexual things with other people you think is nasty or over the line?
What is the respectful thing to do when someone who is drunk wants to have sex with you? If they are really hot? If you are really desperate?
Next week: Questions from Steubenville, Ohio (continued)