Rehtaeh Parsons…

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.

7 Replies to “Rehtaeh Parsons…”

  1. Dear Colleen, I am so very proud of you for being such a good Mother and teaching your children right from wrong. Their is a lot of bullying out there, in schools and it’s up to us as parents to be there for our children to guide and teach them to be respectfully towards each other. You are very wise and your children will love you for being there for them. Enjoy reading your writings, you are a gifted writer! xo

    • Thank you for such a lovely comment Mrs. Durling! I hope my children will realize that I’m trying to teach them to live with empathy. They’re pretty cool kids and I’m enjoying watching them grow into lovely young men and women.

  2. Beautiful post. I am glad you had the talk with your son, too. Far too often we teach our girls how not to get raped when we should also be teaching our boys NOT to rape.

  3. Such a hard and yet (unfortunately) necessary talk to have with our kids. My heart went out to Rehteah for the horror that she lived through for so long that resulted in her seeing no other way out. She has been in my thoughts numerous times lately and brought me to the point of talking with my kids about internet safety, bullying and just treating each other with respect and dignity.
    Like you, I’m concerned about the world that our kids are growing up in. Unfortunately, today I had another talk to my boys (ages 11 and 13) because they had heard about the Boston bombing. So very sad and senseless.

    All we can do is educate our kids, make them aware that how they treat others can greatly affect them (good and bad). Teach them to be good people and to stand up for what is right. Unfortunately, some people, old and young, are still in need of this same lesson. Here’s hoping they learn it soon.

  4. Good job Colleen….I too always think of teaching my girl but this has made it so clear how we need to be teaching our boys……and that the word no comes in SO MANY forms. Maybe had we all realized this so many years ago it may have made a big difference…..great post, thank you.

  5. Love this. I have read so many blog posts that are written in the “letter to my son” style, yet I’m wondering if people are actually talking to their sons, actually writing the letter TO their sons, or if they’re just blogging controversial topics to get hits. Kudos to you for actually getting the job done! Not an easy one but so important!
    Also- welcome to the Halifax Blogger’s group!

    • Thanks Jade. And yes…I have these tough conversations with my kids on a regular basis. I truly believe it’s “up to me” to teach them.