Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Is the Answer as Simple as Kindness?

Lately, we’ve seen national news stories about teen sexual assaults (Steubenvuille, Ohio and Saratoga, California). In recent posts I’ve spoken a lot about underage drinking as a contributing factor. But underage drinking and impaired judgment alone don’t explain why these assaults occur. These assaults have occurred at parties, among friends, even with bystanders observing, laughing and taking photos while the boys take advantage of a drunk girl. We may think of a rapist as a masked stranger who jumps out of the bushes with ill intent. In reality the victim generally knows the rapist. He may be a boyfriend, a date, a family member, an acquaintance or a co-worker.  

That’s the part that has the community confounded. We think rapists are evil people who consciously harm. Yet, in Steubenville the boys never identified that they were sexually assaulting a helpless victim. Onlookers didn’t intervene either. How is it boys who are ‘good kids’ are committing these acts? I recently read an article by Kim Simon, No More Steubenvilles; How to Raise Boys to Be Kind Men, about how we’ve created a culture that contributes to sexual violence. It’s an interesting look at a complicated problem.  

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