The news from Steubenville, Ohio is just the latest example in how we continue to fail our young people. If you did not know, two High School football players were found guilty in the rape of a 16 year-old girl. The victim was intoxicated at a party last summer and passed out. That's when the two boys apparently took advantage of her. While the story of a young girl being raped is horrible, what's even worse is that other party goers, as well as classmates, knew what was happening and did not come to the victims aid. Instead they chose to take out their cell phones and snap pictures and/or videos and text and Tweet about it...while it was happening. In addition, other students discussed and gossiped about the crime openly online while never bothering to contact authorities.
In addition, three other football players watched what happened and recorded it on their phones. They received immunity for their testimony. Some of the most damning evidence were sexually explicit text messages sent by students and classmates who were at the party. The judge delivered a Guilty verdict and in the process stated "Many of the things we learned during this trial that our children were saying and doing were profane, were ugly."
Again I have to ask: Why isn't Internet common sense and/or technology ethics a part of our young people's education? Our children have the most advanced technology known to man at their disposal and are given an unprecedented amount of freedom as well as exposure through social media and Internet technology. Yet, nowhere are they being taught how to use it. How many more Manti Te'o's or High School incidents like this do we have to see? We have all seen and read about the absurd number of teen suicides as a result of cyber-bullying. What more do we want?
I have been working with middle school and High School aged children for many years and in that time have come to realize that, while being unbelievably technologically savvy, they are extraordinarily ignorant regarding consequences. We now have a national story where educated High School kids stood by and filmed/photographed a girl being raped instead of trying to stop it. They even went as far as to post some of their material on Youtube so other people could watch as well.
Maybe this case will get the wheels moving...? I think the victim's mother summed it up best in what she said to the accused at trials end: "You were your own accuser, through the social media that you chose to publish your criminal conduct on."