We must help teens understand the seriousness of child sexual abuse

Excerpt from THINKPROGRESS

In an incident making national headlines, a 16-year-old girl from Texas says that photos of her unconscious body went viral online after she was drugged and raped at a party with her fellow high schoolers. But the victim isn’t backing down. She’s speaking out about what happened to her, telling her story to local press and asking to be identified as Jada.

After other teens started mocking her online — sharing images of themselves splayed out on the floor in the same pose as Jada’s unconscious body under the hashtag #jadapose — the victim decided to speak out. She sat down with local outlet KHOU 11 to tell her side. “I’m just angry,” Jada said.

According to Jada, she was invited to a party at a fellow high schooler’s house. The boy who was hosting the party gave her a drink that she believes was spiked with a drug that made her lose consciousness. She passed out and doesn’t remember what happened next. But then she started seeing evidence of her sexual assault circulated online, and some of her peers started texting her to ask her if she was okay.

Then, #jadapose started turning her rape into a joke. When the Houston Press reached out to one of the individuals who shared a popular #jadapose photo, he said that he didn’t personally know Jada and was simply “bored at 1 a.m. and decided to wake up my (Twitter timeline).”

Jada decided to share her name and her story with the press because she has nothing to hide anymore. “Everybody has already seen my face and my body,” she said, “but that’s not what I am and who I am.” Nonetheless, the social media firestorm has taken a toll on her. She says she now wants to be homeschooled.

The Houston police is currently investigating Jada’s allegations, and no arrests have yet been made.

OUR TAKE

40% of child sexual abuse is by older or more powerful youth. In this instance, the alleged abuse was followed by a complete breakdown of basic decency. Instead of receiving support, the victim was mocked and pictures were shared on social media, destroying any expectation of anonymity for a minor and adding further trauma to an already devastating situation.

A culture that mocks victims and rape in this case also allowed the alleged abuser to have free say on the matter – granting him rein to publicly call Jada names like “snitch” and “hoe.”

This horrifying example shows exactly why it’s so important to have regular, age-appropriate talks with kids and teens about boundaries, appropriate behavior on and offline, and sexual abuse. Today’s definition and expectation of privacy is much, much different than it was even 10 years ago. Children must be taught from a young age that rape jokes, rape photos, and anything else pertaining to the sexual violation of another person are not funny. They need to know the harm that can be done by sharing jokes and pictures that mock abuse or abuse victims.

In many cases, youth don’t understand the implications of what they’re doing. That is why it is up to us as adults to educate them on what is right.

We cannot continue to allow this to happen.

5 Responses to We must help teens understand the seriousness of child sexual abuse

  • JUDY DAVIS says:

    God bless you Young lady. By you standing up , you are saving other girls from being put through this tragedy. I am praying that God keeps you strong and gives you comfort. Always remember You Did not Do anything that caused this! Hang in There Sweety.

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  • Jodi Murphy says:

    I would hope we can teach our children that when they see a classmate, even someone they don’t know, in a situation like this they would do the right thing and step in or go and get help. So many teens are afraid of being the ones getting picked on and bullied by their peers that they walk away from something they know is wrong in order to protect themselves. What does that say about our culture–that good kids will do nothing because they are afraid of what will happen to them if they do?

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  • Dawn says:

    Where’s the compassion? Why do so many young ladies think it’s okay to share and mock this crime, continuing to terrorize the victim after what she went through? I think we need to start there. We need to look out for each other. This victim stood up – stood up against just about everyone and said this isn’t right. How brave that is. If just one person would have had that compassion for her, perhaps they may even have prevented this from happening. Where were her friends? She probably wasn’t alone. We need to empower and build each other up. Maybe time spent with our children at a rape crisis center or some volunteerism so they can see what the consequence is after the fact. Maybe that would make it feel real to them and realize how easily they could have been the victim.

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