March 20, 2013

The Boys from Steubenville.

Thoughts on Steubenville and the backlash.

Quite likely, justice was served. Important conversations have been prompted. And, as always, there’s plenty of blame to go around.

Some blame the town. Some blame the parents. Most blame the boys.

I feel compassion for the young woman, her loved ones and those who were threatened because they advocated for her. But I feel compassion, too, for the young men who made a terrible mistake and for those who love them.

These boys were raised in the same culture we decry, where dads brag on the sidelines and boys are expected to show stoic strength and invulnerability, where we worship sports, potty-mouthed pop stars and all things crude.

And where most parents hand kids electronic devices to “play games,” oblivious to the fact that we’ve handed them the key to the porn kingdom.

Talking about and modeling healthy behavior doesn’t mean teens will follow suit. Peers and the media influence youth more than parents. Those frontal lobes can develop at a glacial pace, even in “good students.”

Don’t get me wrong. I’m not saying these young men shouldn’t be punished. Absolutely, they should. But let’s not blame the boys and society in the same breath. They are tadpoles swimming in this sewage, drowning in murky messages about women and sex.

I was taken advantage of as a teen, thankfully before the time of hand-held and social media. Healing required me to get angry but also to get past it. It didn’t help to label the guy as evil when he was just young and stupid.

And it doesn’t help society heal. It only polarizes.

It’s much easier to judge then admit many of us have made horrible choices. Some, like the boy I reference above, raped. Youth, alcohol, sports, social media and our society make a perfect storm.

So, please, have these conversations with your children. Read Lisa Bloom’s Swagger. Think about what we can do to support our young men, as well as our young women.

Because their lives matter too, as much as that of the anonymous victim.

As much as yours and mine.


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Ed: Brianna Bemel

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