Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Rethaeh Parsons and Feral Kids

Yesterday I heard a segment on talk radio about reaction to Christie Blatchford's article
 Why there may never be a case against the alleged Rethaeh Parsons' rapists.

Blatchford points out that there are two sides to every story, an obvious truth, but one not accepted once a victim has been proclaimed and people are out to get blood.

Rethaeh tried to kill herself a few weeks ago after she could no longer take the name-calling she had to endure, which had been instigated by the publication of a photo of herself being "sexually assaulted" by several boys at a party when she was 15. The photo and story went viral on social media and Rethaeh's mother even moved her to another school in an attempt to close the page on this sad story.

The story is now that Rethaeh sought to press charges soon after the incident but it was found to be without sufficient evidence. The faces in the photo are not clear and it is her word against the "boys".

After her suicide, her mother posted on social media about her death and the cause of it, and a group called Anonymous threatened to "out" the names and faces of the four boys alleged to have gang-raped Rethaeh. Now it comes out that one of the boys spotlighted was not even present at the party where the assault took place; and an independent witness says that Rethaeh was not drunk enough to be such a victim and that her behaviour at the party was rather questionable.

Blatchford simply presents these new pieces of the puzzle and she is being vilified for it. What happened to investigative journalism?  It seems that people have already tried and judged the boys in question, found them guilty, and now want the courts to administer justice, as long as it meets their approval.

I think Blatchford is correct; there won't be a judgment against the boys involved, due to insufficient evidence.

The entire story is incredibly tragic; for Rethaeh who obviously suffered psychological abuse over that year and turned to suicide, for her family who will grieve her loss and will no doubt feel guilt over what has happened, and for the boys who will have to live with that guilt no matter what their part in the incident was. Their lives will be changed forever, for better or for worse.

What no one is talking about is the breakdown of family life that is so often behind such stories. I happened to speak with the aunt of Rethaeh with whom Rethaeh lived, alternating between her house and her mother's house, depending upon her mother's situation. Yes, Rethaeh came from a broken home, and mom had a new "partner". Rethaeh moved between houses, depending upon what? One can only speculate, but I have no doubt that the loss of dad and the new man in the house were large factors in Rethaeh's teen development. It is well documented that girls who live without their biological father are more susceptible to provocative behaviour, seeking out the approval and affirmation that they should be getting from dad, but he is absent.

From my own years as the mother of teen-aged girls, I know that there are situations that would make my hair curl. And I don't even know what close calls they may have had when they went to parties. I am sure that alcohol was involved, it always is.

But it seems that we now have feral kids, rather than emotional teens. The boys in this case seemed to have acted like a pack, rather like the feral cats everyone is trying to control at the Halifax waterfront.

And when it comes to feral animals, we all know that the cause is irresponsibility. And I am not suggesting here that we sterilize our kids in order to prevent more feral kids.

What I am saying is that the attention in this case is focusing on the victim, Rethaeh (Heather spelled backwards if you didn't notice) and the out-of-control teen males who prowl about like wolves on innocent girls. No one is innocent and attention should be focused on the fact that it is family breakdown that brings about these situations in the first place.

There may be no judgment made in the case, as Blatchford writes, but I would hope that people would pay attention to what went wrong long before Rethaeh went to that party and was abused. Attention to what was missing in her own family life and attention to what is missing in the family lives of the boys who ran out of control. 

Until we begin to look at the problem of family breakdown, we are simply putting bandaids on a wound that will not get better.


Robert N. Berard said...

This is certainly the best comment I've seen so far on Blatchford's article and one of the best on the whole Parsons incident. If this story is not at the heart of the Culture of Death, I don't know what is.

Anonymous said...

The only people to blame for rape are the rapists.

Anonymous said...

A 15 year old is vomiting out a window and a picture is taken of that while the act is going on- then this photo was distributed for laughs. She and the emotional problems you have basically assumed occured even if there do not justify those boys and their behaviour and implying that her, her issues(which may or may not have existed)do NOT make her responsible for THEIR choices!

Robert N. Berard said...

I don't think that anyone is assigning "blame" here except to those who were responsible for their own actions. Anonymous is reading too much into both Blatchford's article and Culshaw's posting.

Both were, however, pointing up the hypocrisy of a society that glamourizes bad behaviour and acts shocked that some young people engage in it.