Picture a beautiful day. My son, almost a year and a half and his little girl friend who is exactly one year older than him are playing outside. Laughing and giggling, having a great time. My little boy hugs her and tries to kiss her and she says “NO Crosby!” and runs away. I pull him aside and say “When a girl says no, you have to stop. We don’t touch girls when they don’t want to be touched.”
And there is was.
Steubenville. The rape case that brought awareness to the country, had just changed the way I parent my 17 month old.
There is no way he could fully understand what I meant by that statement. Nonetheless, I made it. I knew what I meant. I also knew I would repeat that a million more times. I was always going to teach my son about appropriate consensual love and anything other than appropriate consensual love, which is rape. I knew when he was born I would have to teach him. I am a parent who wants to make sure my kid grows up to know the difference between right and wrong. I also don’t want a rapist as a kid. I will do whatever I have to in order to ensure that respect and awareness is always present with him.
We all know what happened in Steubenville was wrong. On so many levels, so very very wrong. In my eyes it starts with neglect from adults teaching their children, really teaching their children. The teens who saw the rape happening and didn’t stop it, who saw a person in trouble and didn’t help them. All the alcohol that was freely available. The parents who kicked out drunk kids who were not staying the night instead of calling their parents and saying “get your kid, he/she is drunk.” Meanwhile thousands of blasts about a person in need though texts, tweets, Youtube videos and photos… they were all wrong. But the worst thing of all, was that a girl got raped and not one single person cared enough, or had enough self respect and overall love for all humans to stop it. To say “No!” and to know that whether she could say no or not, any one else could have. ANY ONE could have said NO!
So here I am, a mom of a 17 month old boy, already using specific language to hammer in the rights and wrongs of rape. Before this I said “When anyone says no, you have to stop.” The simple truth is we don’t touch anyone when they don’t want to be touched or don’t give consent. That is common sense, or at least I thought it was. It will be common sense for my son.