Teens, sex and R-E-S-P-E-C-T

By: Pam Dillon

When I dropped my kid off at the golf course last Friday afternoon, the parking lot was full of stretch limos, teens in formalwear and parents snapping pictures.

It’s that time of year: proms, high school formals, grad celebrations and parties are in full swing. That’s why it’s so important to sit down with your teens now.
Talk about sex.
In the flurry of finding tuxes, dresses and matching corsages, in the bustle of making salon appointments, dining reservations and meeting arrangements, don’t let them miss the opportunity to think and learn and consider their actions.
Already, their hormones are in a tizzy.  Some – perhaps many – of them will be drinking at end-of-school bashes. And nobody wants a repeat of what happened with Rehtaeh Parsons and her peers.

As you recall, Rehtaeh was 15 when she went to a party. She drank a lot, quickly.  Although the facts – and her recall – got fuzzy after that, it’s indisputable the girl was destroyed by what happened when she was in the company of those few boys.  Two years later she hanged herself.

Was it gang rape?
Was it sexual assault?
Certainly it was not anything any one of us would ever want to happen to our children – boys or girls.

Certainly, it’s also an insult to suggest, as Christie Blatchford has, that Rehtaeh Parsons had consensual sex. She was intoxicated. She vomited out a window.  Afterwards, she had trouble remembering what happened.

If adults can’t tell the difference between consensual sex and rape, how are our kids supposed to know how to conduct themselves?

They need to know.  Now.

Fact #1:  Alcohol lowers inhibitions and impairs judgment. “Alcohol use among adolescents also plays a significant role in sexual assaults and high-risk sexual behaviors,” according to the Health Alliance on Alcohol.

Fact #2: “Consent is an active and dynamic agreement that is part of a healthy sexual relationship. It’s voluntary, sober, enthusiastic, mutual, respectful, and honest.” That’s according to a sexual violence awareness campaign called I Know Someone.

Fact #3:  It’s not up to the female or victim to guard against sexual assault. The onus is on everybody to do no harm and to help someone who is in harm’s way.

Fact #4:  It doesn’t matter what a person wears, how s/he behaves or how much s/he drinks, there’s no excuse for hurting or taking advantage of that person.

Our kids should know better.

Our sons and daughters are accountable for their actions.

The onus is on them to do right by others.

And it’s our responsibility to make sure they understand that before they head out the door.

What do you think?







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