The Boys from Steubenville.

Via Amy Taylor
on Mar 20, 2013
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rape case

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


About Amy Taylor

Amy Taylor writes about parenting, yoga and other journeys for, GaiamTV, elephant journal and others. Find her biweekly columns here. She completed 200-hour YTT at CITYOGA in Indianapolis in 2008 and teaches classes for all ages at  Community Yoga. When she's not writing or practicing yoga, Amy loves to read, research and have adventures with her husband and twin sons. Follow her on Twitter.


9 Responses to “The Boys from Steubenville.”

  1. Lesley says:

    I'm sorry, but a bad choice is drinking so much alcohol that you pass out. Rape is not a bad choice. It is a monsterous, heinous crime. Society may allow many young men and women to be exposed to horror, but not all young men and women perpetrate horror. It's time that we stop feeling sorry for the criminals – period. Society didn't make these boys monsters; these boys chose to be monsters. Your compassion is sorely misplaced.

  2. Amy says:

    I certainly respect your right to your opinion and wish you all the best.

  3. Mark Ledbetter says:

    Considering the sickening details of the story, I can't blame you Lesley, but I side with Amy on this one.

    There have been a bunch of Steubenville articles up the last few days advocating we take a skip on compassion this time. I commented in two of them because (as another commenter put it) the articles were all filled with "vibrations of anger", which, he/she felt, was a mistake. I agree. So I was glad to see this article go up. I think it gets us back on track. We should be compassionate. Even towards monsters.

    It's not the only reason, but… one reason we should be compassionate even towards monsters is this: the monster resides in each of us. An attack on a monster is, in a sense, an attack on ourselves. It's also, come to think of it, a release, even if it's a more controlled release, of our own monster inside.

    I get that people who have suffered horrible physical crimes (of which, rape is not the only one) have cause to forgo compassion. Even if they've only suffered the crimes not personally but through the stories of others. Still, Ahimsa is the way. As Jesus said of every person on Earth, forgive them, they know not what they do.

    He knew that we're all in this together, even the monsters.

  4. Amy says:

    Amen. To paraphrase William Sloane Coffin, you know it's a good idea to change your mind when to do so will widen your heart. Finding compassion for people who act cruelly, selfishly, hatefully and even violently helps me make peace with those parts of myself and the times I have done the same. It's the only way to heal and continue to open the heart. At least, that's been my experience. Thank you for sharing your thoughts, Mark.

  5. onevoice says:

    Maybe you should take a look at the disgusting video of one of these "poor" boys before you come to his rescue. You barely say a word about the victim but you go on and on about the poor boys and how they will be stigmatized for life. My God, they chose to rape a young girl over and over and showed absolutely no remorse. It's all a big joke to them – you are supporting this rape culture that allows young men to act out in horrible inhumane ways with no accountability at all. the most compassionate thing you could do right now is realize that they must be held accountable for their actions so their future will not include even more atrocities. Life is messy and hard but they made the choice to rape – they must now live with their awful choice and learn.
    Don't want to be called a rapist? Then don't rape.

  6. Jackie says:

    Hi Amy,
    I really appreciate this post. All over social media and the news we see these young men classified as monsters. I too was taken advantage of a few years ago and it certainly was hard for me to move forward. However, forgiveness was the biggest blessing in my life. I never saw my attacker as a monster – he was a human being led away from the path he knew was right. I see these boys as lost souls that need guiding. They have been raised not knowing how to treat a woman and difficulty establishing their masculinity. I think we do need to think of this on a grander scale – we need to establish the respect and love of other human beings in our younger generations. I may only be twenty years old but I certainly think life has matured me into realizing things my peers, like these boys, may not. I think we also need to teach children how to drink CORRECTLY – I am among a generation where dangerous binge drinking is normal and expected. I am in no way blaming the victim for this – I am simply addressing an issue that causes so many problems with young people who find themselves in trouble thanks to alcohol abuse. I have spent close to two years in Europe (France, Italy, UK) And find myself so impressed by the way young people consume alcohol there. Sorry for the long post – needed to get my two cents in. I pray for these boys just as much as I pray for the victim. Because these boys need guidance – they can be saved, too.

  7. Jackie says:

    I also know that no everyone shares my feelings, and I respect that. But I was the victim of something very similar, and I know how it feels and I know the power of forgiveness.

  8. Amy says:

    Thank you for sharing your thoughts, Jackie. I agree.

  9. Amy says:

    Of course my heart goes out to the victim. I said that. i did not say a word about the boys being stigmatized for life. I think all the media on this has been jumbled up. I just don't believe that we do anyone any good when we label human beings as monsters– or victims, for that matter. I'm not excusing the boys' actions or saying they should be let off the hook, merely saying I can find compassion for all involved. That's my truth and the only path I believe will lead to healing, which is my wish for all of us.