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Challenge: Open Discussion

Before It Happens... for our daughters and sons

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I've never joined a discussion group before but after watching the Netflix documentary Roll Red Roll I felt compelled to do something. Here is a summary "At a 2012 pre-season football party in Steubenville, Ohio, a young woman is raped. The aftermath exposes an entire culture of complicity and the roles that peer pressure, denial, sports, machismo, and social media played in the tragedy."

As a mother of 2 daughters and a social worker who worked with sexual offenders for over 15 years the word outrage barely expresses my true feelings. That being said Steubenville, Ohio can happen in any town on any given night. In the documentary there was a quote saying something to the effect of "there needed to be a hero that night" meaning to intervene. On any given weekend groups of teenagers will be partying and making questionable choices but realistically what can we do as moms, dads, friends, teachers to protect the next girl (or boy) from this trauma?

This act of violence against this 16 year old girl shocked this country - the videos and pictures were graphic and yet this type of situation is not isolated. I believe most parents would say my son would never have done that - including the parents of the two boys convicted. The truth is that most boys WOULD NEVER do that but could be at a party where an assault is happening. How do you speak up, what can you say, what can you do?? Are we having these conversations to make it easier for our boys and girls to "be a hero"? I do take issue with the word hero used in the documentary because it's my belief that it is every individual's moral responsibility to act in some way to prevent an assault. How do you speak out against a football player when you are half his size and afraid? You probably don't if you feel blindsided, scared and you've never been faced with this issue.

How do we as parents help to shift the culture from don't speak up and just ignore it to you must do SOMETHING. When these stories hit the media there tends to be a resurgence of conversations about consent, assault, etc. but then it goes away and we move on. I think we try to hide behind "not my kid" or "my kid would never". What if we can work towards decreasing the opportunity for ALL our kids by continue to educate boys and girls about what they CAN DO TO ACT.

I started asking my friends about what conversations they have been having with their children about this topic - when is the right time to discuss? Do they discuss? I would love to hear feedback if anyone has time about how to help us all move forward together BEFORE IT HAPPENS AGAIN - instead of reading about another tragedy and thinking we should be doing more!

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