A few weeks ago, I found myself alone in the car with my son…about to go into the mall to do a little shopping. We were pulling into our parking spot as the station we were listening to broke into a news story…a story I’d read about and heard repeatedly through the day and at that moment…without really putting a whole lot of thought into it…I turned down the radio, turned to my son and said “we need to talk.”
I told him of the Steubenville rape. How a young girl was repeatedly violated. Disrespected at the hands of two young high school boys. Two “good students.” Two teammates with “promising futures.” I explained how their lives were forever changed because they chose to horrifically destroy the life of another human being.
I spoke from my heart as my pale-faced, freckled boy listened intently…his blue eyes peering into mine. My heart pounded as the words I never thought to tell him…formed.
I spoke as honestly as I could and asked that he always remember the conversation. To remember everything I’ve taught him. To respect. To have empathy. To stand up for and fight for another human being.
It was a conversation I never imagined having yet there it was…on the news. A story so heinous. Lives forever ruined. Social media gone completely wrong and used in a horrific way. Beyond comprehension.
And I was scared for him.
Terrified of this world he’s growing up in.
While away in Florida this week on a family vacation, I heard of a story closer to home. Similar in many ways. The difference…the ultimate horrific difference…a young girl took her life.
Rehtaeh Parsons was raped. Over and over again as it showed up on social media. Over and over again as she was bullied. Over and over again as it couldn’t leave her mind.
She couldn’t get away from it and in the end…did the only thing she could.
She made it stop.
I turned to my son once again and said “we need to talk.” During a quiet moment of our family vacation I briefly told him what I knew. What was filling my Facebook feed. Filling my Twitter feed. Filling my email as readers asked for my opinion. Filling my thoughts and our conversations around the pool as four adults tried to make sense of something that makes no sense.
In that quiet moment…I told him the story.
And he listened.
I’m at a loss for knowing how to guide my children through this. Trying to figure out where things have gone so horribly wrong. Trying to teach them right from wrong in a world where things are out of control. Where respect is lost.
I’ve shed tears for the life of a young girl who saw no way out. For her friends and family who will forever grieve.
I have no answers but as a parent, I can open the dialog with my children.
Pray to God they hear me.
And hope that it makes a difference.