"Who is driving the boat?"
Updated: Sep 5, 2020
In light of the alleged gang rape of a 16-year-old girl in Israel, I feel we are in a dying need for serious introspection.
As a parent, as a woman, and as a human being I can't find peace thinking of the kind of world our children are growing up in.
Just like so many of you, I feel angry, disappointed, and hurt.
I demand justice for this poor girl whose life has been shattered into pieces.
I pray for her and her family to get the justice they deserve.
I also pray they find some peace to start healing from this nightmarish ordeal.
Sadly, this horrible incident is not only an Israel problem, this is a worldwide issue.
Sexual violence is a real threat to women, young girls, and children around the world.
As horrific and hard to grapple with, this is a reality and as such it needs to be addressed so we can fight it.
While there are horrible situations where things are out of a person's control perhaps some dangerous situations could be avoided if we educate our young.
As parents, it is our moral obligation to have conversations with our girls and boys.
We are driving the boat.
As they grow up they need to hear the "Stranger danger" topic.
They need to be warned about the predators and their behaviors, they need to be advised on how to protect themselves to try to stay safe.
Most of all, they need to be reassured that they can seek help with us and come with any questions or concerns.
While most adults have had conversations like these with their younger children, fewer have had more difficult conversations as they get older.
Talking to girls about staying safe when they are going out, having a buddy system, and protocols when drinking is an uncomfortable yet necessary conversation that needs to happen.
It is also important to talk about preserving your own person, not letting others pressure you to do something you are uncomfortable with and most of all, think about the long game, the consequences of your decisions.
Teens will want to explore, rebel, and experiment, it's part of their human nature.
The issue is that by avoiding all the difficult conversations we create a vulnerability and we perpetuate a taboo that endangers our children and youth.
Many of us are teaching our children ethical and religious values hoping that these will help model a type of lifestyle.
What we don't realize, is that while our families, our synagogues, our churches, and our schools are sending messages so is social media.
Kids and teens are bombarded with an over-sexualized environment.
The music videos objectifying women and singers singing vulgarities are part of the new normal.
These are the role models we never chose for our children and yet they are sending their messages either consciously or unconsciously.
I'm not here to tell people how to live, it's a free country.
What adults do in the context of a consensual relationship is up to them.
What concerns me is that children and teens are been bombarded with the wrong messages which in turn makes them easily manipulated leaving them vulnerable to predators.
By avoiding these conversations we are giving up the stage to these confusing messengers.
In Spanish we say;" El que calla, otorga".
"Silence gives and connotes consent", meaning we should speak up when we see something wrong.
It's the only way to move the needle to encourage change.
The last point I'd like to make is one about empathy.
We need to teach our boys, future men to be, to respect women, all women.
It's important to convey that one may never touch someone who didn't consent to that touch.
Taking advantage of someone vulnerable is the opposite of being a man, it's being a coward.
A real man is the one who helps those who are vulnerable and prevents them from getting hurt.
We are all interconnected and responsible for one another, we are all in the same human family.
Writing this message is my way of breaking the silence as I will not remain quiet while others suffer.
By breaking the silence we can bring awareness and empower change.
Let's all partner up and raise empathetic children who will care for one another.