Over the past year, a few high-profile court cases involving rape have spurred an intense national discussion on the topic. Whether it was Brock Turner, a Stanford swimmer who was sentenced to six months in a county jail for his rape of an unconscious woman, or Owen Labrie, a student at an elite prep school who raped a 14-year-old classmate but was arraigned on lesser charges, our justice system has tried to convict rapists with varying degrees of success. As a father, I look at these cases, and I can’t help but worry for my children. In times like these, we must take a stand, and we must teach our sons that being brought to trial and then convicted of rape is simply, utterly wrong.
Our children, and more specifically, our boys, need to know that they should never, under any circumstances, be put in a situation where they could potentially lose a case accusing them of sexual assault. My son knows that, and every parent should make an effort to teach their boys the same.
Whether they made the vile, unforgivable mistake of having a bad lawyer, calling an unreliable witness, or openly admitting to their crime to an undecided jury, America’s youth must understand that being convicted of rape should never, ever happen. Going to court for sexual assault is one thing, but being declared guilty is quite another, and as responsible parents, we need to do everything in our power to ensure that no child crosses that line, no questions asked.
Bottom line, we need to do a better job at showing our sons that there is no worse mistake a young man can make than being declared guilty of rape, not now, not ever.
I don’t care who you are—if you have a son, you need to teach him that being convicted of rape, even just one time, is unforgivable. The truth is, the moment your boy loses a rape trial is the moment that lives are ruined, and there’s absolutely no taking that back.
As a father of a young man myself, I would not be able to live with myself if he someday went to jail just because of something as easily preventable as a sexual assault conviction. When I look into my 8-year-old Callum’s eyes, the last thing I want to think about is my little guy becoming the type of man who can’t somehow weasel his way out of a high-profile court case, in front of all his friends, family, and the public at large.
Bottom line, we need to do a better job at showing our sons that there is no worse mistake a young man can make than being declared guilty of rape, not now, not ever. Because if we want this generation of boys to grow into men that we truly take pride in, we have to start teaching them that any young man who gets punished for rape brings shame not only to himself but also to his gender, and this country as a whole.
So please, don’t wait. Please talk to your son today about his responsibility to never be convicted of rape, and to speak up if he ever sees someone else in danger of being convicted of rape. Our future depends on it.