A recent story has been making the rounds across social media platforms, news outlets and inboxes far and wide. Boy meets drunken girl at a party, brings her to a basement, where he sexually assaults and rapes the young woman while filming the encounter. The family court judge defended the accused, because he was concerned that the charges would “destroy the boy’s life.” The judge arrived at this defense, because the boy ‘came from a good family, attended an excellent school, had terrific grades and was an Eagle scout.”
The violence against the young woman and the judge’s actions that silently but powerfully de-valued her worth are hideous, offensive, and distressing. What makes this news report of interest to Savvy Cyber Kids is the way the young man furthered the pain of the crime, fueled by tech and his intention to do further damage with social media, by broadcasting video of the rape, captioning the video “when your first time having sex was rape.”
How this young man, who based on his achievements was no doubt bombarded throughout his upbringing with messages of ‘do the right thing’ got to a place where this violence seemed appropriate to him, and defensible even months past the crime, when he continued to share the video, is also of interest to Savvy Cyber Kids. While race, privilege, patriarchy and more are at play here, there is another guilty influencer who could be charged with perpetrating this crime, the smartphone.
Savvy Cyber Kids wants all parents of boys to be talking about sex and the smartphone. After all, the young teenage digitally-charged generation has connectivity to all the world has to offer, both positive and negative, like never before. No matter what parental blocks or denial of apps you may or may not enforce in your home, once a child has a smartphone, or has a friend with one, the world is an open book. If your child has been on their smartphone or at a friend’s home that has a phone, tablet, or computer, and they used these devices without parental supervision, they have seen pornography, and most likely lots of it. If your child has ever played a multiplayer game, used ANY social media platform (Twitter, Snapchat, Instagram, etc. they have seen pornography is some shape or form.
Pornography is free, no credit card is needed to access these images or videos. Yes, there are premium services that do require payment for access, but everything you can think of and even things you can’t think of are free for your children to watch. This free porn, the kind most easily accessed, the kind that your children have undoubtably already seen, is not the definition of sex that you want your child to think is the norm. Free porn is generally marked by a twisted sexualized violence against women, perpetrating the idea of male conquest into visualized feats of sexual prowess that are forceful towards women with the false assumption of her enjoyment because the man enjoys it and the woman looks like she enjoys it.
Our brains learn based on what we experience in life. If your son watches hours of pornographic videos of two or more men having sex with one woman, that becomes his basis for what he expects his sexual experiences to be like. If your son watches hours of pornographic videos where a man is holding a woman against her will and she seems to be enjoying sex, that becomes his basis for what he expects his sexual experiences to be like. If your son watches hours of pornographic videos of men abusing women during sex, that becomes his basis for what he expects his sexual experiences to be like.
The reality is that this young man in the story making the rounds may be from a ‘good’ family. He may have been raised by loving parents who tried to instill values of respect and kindness to others. But he was also raised—as are your children—by a myriad of devices that provide unfettered internet access which gives them a window to the world not curated by parents.
This is the naked truth of the Digital Age, your children are being raised by what they experience on their smartphone and other devices. Savvy Cyber Kids founder, Ben Halpert says, “If you do not sit your son down to tell them that the porn they watch on the internet is not how we treat women, then you are raising a rapist. And when they are convicted of their crime, you too should be convicted as an accomplice.”
Parents, you need to address and re-address your children’s understanding of a healthy sexual relationship earlier than you would have ever expected before your child ends up imitating what they see online. Your discussion should include what a healthy relationship between two people entails, what consent means in real life experiences, and your own family values.” Sign up for Savvy Cyber Kids’ Parent’s Guides, and learn how to talk about important cyber safety topics—including sex—with your child.
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