“We need to connect the dots between these cases. For young men to be able to mock the assaults of their female peers and even share images of the events online indicates an immensely powerful sense of detachment in their attitudes towards these girls. It suggests that they see them as less than human.” So wrote Laura Bates in an article entitled “#JadaPose: the online ridiculing of a teen victim is part of a sickening trend.” And that’s just what the whole incident is—sickening. One more rape, one more heartless circulation of the pictures, one more instance of gloating, and yes, one is a crowd. One is a crowd for one is way too many.
There are several things that trouble me about this story. Yes. The act of rape is itself horrific and the victim’s recovery is slow and painful, taking years. Something is wrenched from the victim that can never be recovered. That in itself is sad and beyond words. But there’s more.
One is a crowd when one lacks care
This is not the first time you’ve seen this type of thing, is it? Young people have committed suicide because of this total lack of sympathy, compassion, and empathy by many. Then there is the lack of remorse and seeming feeling of entitlement on the part of the perpetrator. It happens with adults. In this case it has happened with teens.
This goes beyond protecting your youth and/or your children. There is a callousness here and a delight in shaming that is sad. Who showed this heartlessness?
- The people at the party who did nothing to help her when she was blacked out. They took pictures.
- The people who initially shared the pictures on social media.
- Those who copied her pose, took pictures, used a hashtag with her name and shared those pictures.
- Those who are engaged in calling her degrading names.
- The young men who assaulted her.
Something is horribly wrong when so many young people give no thought for Jada and think it is okay to do this. One is a crowd with such behavior. In this case you’ve got a “super” crowd.
This is what one young man said: “The Houston Press contacted a Twitter user responsible for one of the more popular #JadaPose tweets. He told them he posted it because he was bored and didn’t know Jada personally.” One is a crowd for there are too many “ones’ with his mentality.
Loving God and neighbor where the rubber hits the road
Now more than ever, you need to teach what it means to love God and love neighbors. More than ever, you need to bring it home for the young people in your group. Let them know that when sexual assault occurs,
- It is not okay to blame the victim.
- It is not okay to hail the perpetrators as cool.
- It is not okay to spread photos of naked teens in vulnerable positions and situations.
- It’s not okay to take advantage of people period, especially when they are vulnerable.
- If they are present during an assault, they should intervene. If they are physically unable to do anything, at the very least, call the police.
- Do not indulge in judgmental name calling of others. Support them.
- It’s not okay to disrespect women.
That’s not an exhaustive list. The point is, have these conversations in your youth ministry. Be specific about what these points look like. When one is a crowd for ill, one can also be a crowd for good.
Do activities and programs that help young people to be reflective in what they do, and how they see and treat others. Challenge them to hold these behaviors and attitudes up in the light of the Bible. I address this in some of the training we do in the Coaching Community. I’ve written a little more about it in an article in the July edition of Youth Worker. We do a lesson on responsible sexuality in Believe Curriculum.
Thank God for those who are pushing back and supporting Jada as she stands up for herself. Pray for her and the other victims as they heal. Act with your young people so that they are not part of the problem.
Yes, one is a crowd and there are too many of the wrong kinds of crowds. Hence, the work that you do and a youth worker and/or an adult who cares about youth is vital and urgent Whatever you do, don’t stop now.
Living fully. Living faithfully. Following Christ.
Image courtesy of Vlado / FreeDigitalPhotos.net