It is never ok: 3 lessons for parents from the Stanford Rape Case
I’ve never experienced rape and can’t imagine how terrible that would be and would do anything to protect my future sons or daughter from ever experiencing that nightmare. One night that easily could have changed and I would have became one of the 1 in 4 women who are a victim of a sexual assault. My date, who I had just met, was super feely and didn’t listen when I said I felt uncomfortable with his attention. Instead of stopping, he increased those attentions and, at once point, pinned my arms down while he kissed me. I was luckily enough to remove myself from the situation before any assault, but there are many who aren’t as fortunate.
I was appalled by the lax punishment of Brock Turner in the Stanford Rape case. No matter the circumstance; no matter if alcohol is involved, no matter if he/she was asking for it, it is never ok to take advantage of someone sexually. And that means kissing or touching them inappropriately without their permission, or, doing the unthinkable and actually sexually assaulting them.
As parents, this is what we need to teach our children over and over again—it is NEVER ok to do any of those things without permission.
While it should seem self-explanatory, it’s a hard message for our children to understand.
They don’t grow up understanding what is and isn’t ok or what consent looks like. Often the lines of consent are blurred in the media and what our children see around them. In the movies, the dashing leading man throws the women he just meet up against the wall and kisses her or the beautiful lead actress pulls the man into the closet. Rappers and musicians talk about rape and conquest with their sexually explicit lyrics. They see the TV actors that make sexual/sexist comments gets the girl/guy. They see athletes cheat on their wives and girlfriends. They see celebrities who gain fame by selling their body.
All these images lead them to believe that the way to get the girl/guy is to push the lines and not ask for consent. That it’s ok for them to take what they want because the other person wants it. That this behavior is what will make them popular. Or worse of all, that there will be no consequences.
At that was the reaction of the father of Brock Turner. In a letter to the judge, Brock Turner’s father mentions that because his son was a good person, that the judge should go light on punishment. Which is exactly what happened.
Seriously, what message is that telling our children? A scary one. The idea that it’s ok to steal, cheat, or take advantage of someone as long as your a good person removes the consequences that are so vital for our children to know and accept. Our children need to know that all decision we make, have consequences—Some good, some bad. Some immediate, some not. Some long-lasting, some fleeting.
From this terrible event we learn 3 lessons.
First, we need to teach our children what behavior is acceptable and what we expect from them. We teach them this using the skill of Preventive Teaching. When we use the skill of Preventive Teaching we teach our children how to act in a multitude of circumstances before they’ve ever placed in that that situation and that prevents them from doing something stupid.
Second, we need to teach our children to accept responsibility for their actions—no matter how unpleasant. We teach them this using the skill of Correcting Behaviors. When we make a habit of correcting our children’s behavior, our children understand their are consequences to their action.
Third, we need to teach our children that if they EVER find themselves on the receiving end of sexual abuse, they should never feel ashamed of what happened or that they caused their suffering. We teach them this using the skill of Effective Communication. When we open up lines of communication, our children feel like they can come to us about anything and we’ll listen to their concerns without judgment.
It’s only when we teach our children these lessons can we prevent future events and the heartache of the victim in the Stanford Rape Case.