Many of us will roll our eyes or comment on how hard it was when we were teenagers, but can you fathom being a teenager now? In an age where there are little to no expectations of privacy, where your personal information is readily available, and where the things you say or do can be recalled at the mere internet search of your name? Preteens and teens very rarely will ask for help or advice, but as adults in our communities, it is our responsibility to help keep them safe. Having age-appropriate discussions on tough topics such as sexual abuse, is not only a necessity, it could save someone’s life.
It is even more important to model healthy adult relationships. A person’s feelings should never be the focus of a joke.
This week we’re sharing an important post from our friends at Darkness to Light (D2L), whom we’re proud to work with as a Partner in Prevention:
“We must help teens understand the seriousness of child sexual abuse.”
Originally posted by Darkness to Light on July 11th
In an incident making national headlines, a 16-year-old girl from Texas says that photos of her unconscious body went viral online after she was drugged and raped at a party with her fellow high schoolers. But the victim isn’t backing down. She’s speaking out about what happened to her, telling her story to local press and asking to be identified as Jada.
After other teens started mocking her online — sharing images of themselves splayed out on the floor in the same pose as Jada’s unconscious body under the hashtag #jadapose — the victim decided to speak out. She sat down with local outlet KHOU 11 to tell her side. “I’m just angry,” Jada said.
According to Jada, she was invited to a party at a fellow high schooler’s house. The boy who was hosting the party gave her a drink that she believes was spiked with a drug that made her lose consciousness. She passed out and doesn’t remember what happened next. But then she started seeing evidence of her sexual assault circulated online, and some of her peers started texting her to ask her if she was okay.
Then, #jadapose started turning her rape into a joke. When the Houston Press reached out to one of the individuals who shared a popular #jadapose photo, he said that he didn’t personally know Jada and was simply “bored at 1 a.m. and decided to wake up my (Twitter timeline).”
Jada decided to share her name and her story with the press because she has nothing to hide anymore. “Everybody has already seen my face and my body,” she said, “but that’s not what I am and who I am.” Nonetheless, the social media firestorm has taken a toll on her. She says she now wants to be homeschooled.
The Houston police is currently investigating Jada’s allegations, and no arrests have yet been made.
40% of child sexual abuse is by older or more powerful youth. In this instance, the alleged abuse was followed by a complete breakdown of basic decency. Instead of receiving support, the victim was mocked and pictures were shared on social media, destroying any expectation of anonymity for a minor and adding further trauma to an already devastating situation.
A culture that mocks victims and rape in this case also allowed the alleged abuser to have free say on the matter – granting him rein to publicly call Jada names like “snitch” and “hoe.”
This horrifying example shows exactly why it’s so important to have regular, age-appropriate talks with kids and teens about boundaries, appropriate behavior on and offline, and sexual abuse. Today’s definition and expectation of privacy is much, much different than it was even 10 years ago. Children must be taught from a young age that rape jokes, rape photos, and anything else pertaining to the sexual violation of another person are not funny. They need to know the harm that can be done by sharing jokes and pictures that mock abuse or abuse victims.
In many cases, youth don’t understand the implications of what they’re doing. That is why it is up to us as adults to educate them on what is right.
We cannot continue to allow this to happen.
Ready to prevent child sexual abuse here in our community?
- Click here for more information on SCAN’s work with D2L in Northern Virginia
- Schedule a D2L training for your group
- Learn ways to connect with kids
- Tracy Leonard