Thursday, May 26, 2016

Football is moving out of the Wild West

Sports Illustrated's Joan Niesen  calls it "a broken system... a crisis". What's she referring to? The prevalence of violence against women by collegiate and professional football players... and  a system that is aware of their actions and actively  shields the player from consequences in order to protect their investment in the athlete. SI's recent article, "Latest sexual violence allegations highlight broken system at Baylor" references the recently released report by Pepper Hamilton investigating how Baylor University handled numerous allegations of sexual violence by Baylor's athletes.  The report cites numerous problems with the college's response: inadequately trained administrators, lack of response to alleviate a hostile environment, and a different disciplinary process for athletes than other students.

Baylor has announced leadership changes and corrective actions based on the findings of the investigation they commissioned by Pepper Hamilton. Baylor's response is late and lackluster, coming only after intense public scrutiny of how the university mishandled numerous reports of sexual misconduct. Niesen states, "It’s the Wild West, an absence of justice, and Baylor has had no incentive to fix the landscape it created—until now."

This is where there's hope. In the past couple of years we've heard so many stories where star athletes commit acts of gender-based violence-- domestic violence or sexual assault. And we've heard over and over, how their celebrity status protected them from consequence. But, while for years, these acts remained private, victims are now speaking out, the public is noticing, organizations are being held accountable for  the actions of their players... and teammates an coaches are speaking out against violence. Concern, justice, and accountability are civilizing  the Wild West

Friday, May 13, 2016

"Wait, Worry and Wonder"

Yesterday John Gray's Fade to Gray column, Social Nightmare, covered an important issue affecting teens, the devastating violation of personal privacy that occurs when an intimate  image is privately shared on-line with one person, but then becomes public. Sometimes  images are posted publicly after a break-up -- so called 'revenge porn', other times, it's sextortion, i.e.,  predators actively groom vulnerable teens they've met on-line,  building a 'friendship' and with the express intent to solicit the teen to send them explicit images that they will post publicly.

We hear about these things, but tend to think they happen elsewhere, in some other county or to someone else's kids. Gray's story is about a local teen... and the concern was that what happened to him could affect at least a dozen of his friends. Technology has changed so quickly, it's hard for parents to keep up with it let alone to be ahead of the game in helping their children remain safe. We didn't grow up in a time when in an impulsive and emotionally-charged moment it was possible to take a quick intimate picture and press send... possibly having it viewed worldwide by strangers. It's the kind of situation a parent doesn't even imagine until it happens. Gray states
"He made a 10 second mistake that will now haunt him forever.
Like a grenade with the pin pulled all he can do is
wait, worry and wonder when it’s going to go off."
What teen hasn't made a10 second mistake a some point? It's chilling that todays' technology allows those mistakes to become viral. Here's a graphic and haunting video depicting a typical teenage girl...and how her whole life can be controlled due to sextortion.