opinion

"Mothers, fathers, please talk to your sons about this story."

A 15-year-old girl has allegedly been raped by a 15 year-old boy while unconscious at a friend’s party, while the act was allegedly filmed by a second 15 year-old boy. The video was then allegedly sent to 50 other students.

The incident was reported to police by teachers at the school attended by the first boy, who has since been charged by police.

One 15-year-old boy was charged on Tuesday with aggravated sexual assault of a child and another 15-year-old boy was charged with filming a young person committing a sexual act on another young person without consent, producing child abuse material and distributing that material on social media, after pleading not guilty in the Children’s Court in Glebe on Monday.

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"My heart is breaking for so many people." (iStock)

This is a tragedy that is rippling through a community. Angry columns are being written, posted and shared. Fingers of blame are being pointed angrily in multiple directions. There is fury and gossip and outrage and controversy.

But mostly there is devastation. Today, as I read about this shocking incident, my heart is breaking for so many people.

First and foremost of course, at the centre of this is the alleged victim, a 15-year-old girl who must be suffering unimaginable trauma. My heart breaks for her and the innocence she has lost in terms of how the world works. What people can do. What can happen to you at a suburban teenage party where you were meant to have fun and be silly and maybe dance and hang out with your friends. At someone's house. Where your physical safety wasn't even something you thought could be under attack.

For her parents. Oh, the rage they must be feeling at the world today and at the group of people who have allegedly attacked and exploited their precious girl. It's enough to make you want to lock your doors and never leave.

"The 15-year-old girl at the centre of this must be suffering unimaginable trauma." (iStock)
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For the family hosting the party, who would never have imagined such a thing could have happened. Who no doubt thought they were on top of it but couldn't have eyes everywhere at once.

And also, my heart breaks in a particular way for the parents of the boys involved. The boy who allegedly raped an unconscious girl. The parents of the boy who allegedly filmed it. The parents of the boys who received video of the alleged attack on their phones and passed it on. That's a lot of mothers - and fathers - who must be feeling horrified and mortified and guilty and sick.

What must they be thinking today? As a woman, a mother, the thought that you could raise a boy or a man who could do such a thing is... it's your worst nightmare, or one of them.

Watch: How consent can be explained using the analogy of a cup of tea. (Post continues after video.)

Mothers, talk to your sons. Fathers, talk to your sons. Talk to them about consent. Remind them that a drunk girl, an unconscious girl, a distressed girl, a sleeping girl cannot give her consent to anything. Talk to them about decency and being the good guy; the one who makes sure any vulnerable girl gets home safely. Talk to them about keeping an eye open for any girl who seems out of her depth and doesn't have friends around to keep her safe. Talk to them about their responsibility and obligation to challenge and shut down any 'boy talk' that disrespects women or girls, any jokes about rape or sexual assault. Talk to them about what it means to do the right thing, and how that includes speaking up if they hear about a video circulating or a photo or a rumour.

It is truly shocking to comprehend the allegation that these boys committed these horrendous acts and felt comfortable to share them with 50 friends. That they felt safe in doing so. Would they have felt as safe and confident to share footage of themselves committing other kinds of crimes? Or did they somehow miss the memo that the crimes for which they've been charged are in fact, crimes?

My heart breaks.

How do you speak to your teens about consent?

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