Stanford's Sexual Assault Case: Why We're Doomed to See More Cases Like Brock Turner's in the Future
The Horrible Truth
You've probably seen his booking photo. Fresh-faced and youthful, Brock Turner looks like the average 19 year old. He's not. Or is he? In June 2016, Mr. Turner was charged with three felony counts of sexual assault. If you haven't read the details his victim painstakingly recounted in her statement to the court, you should. Here's a link.
Feeling sick to your stomach? If you don't, well then, you are part of the problem.
Where Did We Go Wrong?
Parents, what have we done? Society, why are we going off the rails here? In 2015, the Association of American Universities conducted a survey that showed 23% of women in college are the victims of some form of sexual assault. We are living in a world of entitlement. We are either parenting too much or parenting too little. Participation trophies and helicopter parenting combined with a steady decline of human interaction have made our children into insensitive, selfish jerks at best and potential criminals at worst. Kids from privileged homes don't often hear "no" anymore. Kids from disadvantaged homes don't have the guidance to know the difference. The middle ground is getting smaller and smaller. There was a time when societal rules assisted us all by helping direct our younger generation. The "village," so to speak, filled in for parents where they were lacking. Simply put, if the good guy always got the reward, that was motivation for our boys to be good guys. We are now living in a time of moral relativism. We should do what feels right to us. Right and wrong is not as clear. Parents have to take an even stronger role in teaching their children how to have a moral compass.
What is the biggest contributing factor in the rise of moral relativism (i.e. do what feels right instead of what IS right) among America's youth?
How Do We Course Correct?
We have two choices. We can continue the course we're on and act shocked when our children commit horrible acts that boil down to selfishness and an intrinsic lack of sensitivity to the dignity of the human person, or we can make changes. It may or may not be too late for society at the moment, but at home, in the individual family, we can make a difference in small ways. How?
1. Put down the phone. Phones, computers, laptops, Ipads - all of these things are great tools at our disposal. It is not a bad thing to rely on these tools in our daily lives, but when we stop paying attention to the real world because we are paying more attention to a virtual world, we have a problem. When was the last time you had a meal and didn't look at your phone? When was the last real, face-to-face conversation you had? Is there ever an opportunity you can take to speak to someone personally rather than by text? Teach your kids by example. Set limits for yourself and them.
2. Enforce consequences as a parent. Set expectations for behavior. When your child misbehaves, there must be a consequence, and it must be enforced. Let's stop pretending that every child is an angel who must be treated as such. Children do not know they've done something wrong until we tell them, and they don't care that they did something wrong unless there is a consequence for it.
3. Teach your child to respect the dignity of every person. This does not mean they have to agree with everything a person says or does. It does not mean they have to like every person. It means they have to respect that person's life and that it does have value. Respect for the human body in general is a good place to start. Don't let your "birds and bees" talk consist of "use a condom" or "don't do it." We can't be scared to go deeper in regards to how we treat others. Remind your children that there is a real person on the other end of an internet conversation. Show them how to be a person of integrity all the time, and not just when someone is watching. Lead by example. How do you treat others in your personal life? Are people objects meant for your amusement or are they real people, deserving of individual respect?
4. Talk to your kids. When issues like sexual assault present themselves in the news, and if your kids are at an appropriate age, talk to them about it. Don't assume that because they are at a good school and around other kids like them they are staying above the fray when it comes to this type of behavior. They aren't. If you don't educate your kids, society will. If you don't establish yourself as a place for your children to come for answers, society will fill the gap.
Am I Oversimplifying Things?
I don't think so. If we don't start parenting in the right way, there will be many more Brock Turners in this world. How we raise our children determines the course of future generations. I don't doubt that helicopter parents love their children dearly. It's hard to be a parent. In this crazy world of rules, it's difficult to determine which one to prioritize. What's more of a danger? Processed foods or chemical-laden soaps? Let's refocus here. Teaching your child love, kindness and respect is the most important thing. Teaching must involve showing them. It must involve doing rather than just telling. And guess what? Your child will still make mistakes. No matter how much you do the right thing, your child will still screw up from time to time. When they do, teach them to face their mistakes and deal with the consequences. Hopefully, if they have learned this their whole lives, their mistakes will consist of a note home from the teacher because of behavior, and not phone calls from the police because of crimes committed.