A fifteen year old girl was held for two hours and raped repeatedly in a dark place on the campus of a local high school. Six men ranging in age from 15 to 21 have been arrested. It is interesting that they were wearing bulletproof vests. They must have expected some serious trouble for what they planned to do that night. Of course they are innocent until proven guilty.
But as horrible as the acts they committed are the acts of the bystanders – an estimated two dozen people. Some took pictures on their cell phones. Some cheered. Some laughed. Approximately 24 people stood around watching a 15 year old girl being raped over and over. No one did anything to help the girl. Some said they were afraid they would be victims as well if they did anything to help.
Could not at least one person have walked away and called for help?
Where on earth were the security guards that were supposed to be guarding the perimeter of the school? Not even they were available to help this girl. Would they have been afraid as well?
The girl was released from the hospital but no one said how damaged she was, how her life will never be the same. No one is talking about the nightmares, the terror, the guilt and shame she will most likely experience for the rest of her life. Guilt and shame? Yes. Most rape victims carry great guilt and shame because society makes them the guilty one (“She must have led them on,” they say) and because her own mind tries to find a reason for the heinous thing that happened to her. Six (or more) men left her still living but, in essence, they took her life that night.
Have we as a society lost our sense of honor? Lost our courage to stand up for what is right? We read about super heroes in the comic books and watch them in the movies and on TV, but where is someone with just a little courage when another human being is in serious danger and is being violated?
One of the girls there, the one who eventually called the police, told a reporter, “They think it’s cool. They weren’t raised to respect girls.”
That same reporter/editorial writer goes on to write:
We do not, as a society, respect girls. We teach them from birth that sexy is cute, sexy is beautiful, sexy is the way to get attention. From baby shirts that say “Hot Chick” to preschool dance classes where little girls learn to bump and grind, there’s no escaping it. By the time they’re in middle school, girls know that sexy gets more attention from boys than brainy or athletic or tough.
About boys he writes:
But I think it’s even harder for parents of boys. How do you raise a son to be caring and responsible in a culture that too often portrays women as whores and men as warriors and thugs? Movies and video games turn killing into harmless fun. The men carry guns and slap their women around. And the women keep coming back for more.
So, does this excuse it? Absolutely not! The boys who did this are in need of serious help. No one has taught them how to be men. They are cowards who must rely on their group or gang for courage. But there is no excuse.
Nor is there excuse for the bystanders. They, too, are cowards afraid to stand up for what is right.
What would you have done? I like to think that I would have at least slipped away and called for help – on the phone and at the dance where the security guards were hanging out.
What can we do to re-establish honor and respect for one another? It is a very complex problem. How do we teach men not to hit women? How do we teach women to respect themselves? How do we help young people learn “Your freedom ends where my nose begins?”
Isn’t self improvement concerned with courage, compassion, and responding to calls for help from those in need or in trouble? I like to think so.