Dads2Dads: Digging for dignity

Dads2Dads: Digging for dignity

Posted: Thursday, May 16, 2013 8:00 pm
By: By Tom Tozer and Bill Black

The news story out of Steubenville, Ohio, regarding the rape last summer of a teenage girl by two high school boys at a party no doubt stopped all of us in our tracks when it appeared.
Admittedly a football program that has won nine state championships places players on a pedestal of sorts and increases the volume and visibility of bad behavior. We prefer to focus, however, on the bad behavior of teenagers (and perhaps their elders), and there appears to be plenty to go around.
The posting pandemic
What’s so unnerving about this incident — in addition certainly to the assault and the blatant disregard for the victim — was the spectator mentality of other party-goers. One of the accused boys took a photo of the nude girl. That night and the day after there was a deluge of additional photos and tweets and texts. With their devices in hand, it seems that many of our kids are more and more becoming a detached audience watching life through the fourth wall.
The 16-year-old victim was described by the special prosecutor as a mere “toy,” oblivious to how she was being used and abused. This is a further indictment against the onlookers for perceiving what was happening right in front of them as fun and games or just desserts. There’s no excuse for the victim’s behavior. But is anyone off the hook here?
Futures ripped apart
It is probably safe to assume that some spectators were too afraid to get involved or too intoxicated to fully understand what was happening. Several young witnesses clammed up. According to reports, some of the “friends” of the female victim washed their hands of her dilemma because, in their opinion, she was asking for it. As of this writing, two girls, one a cousin of one of the accused boys, have been arrested for sending death threats to the accuser on Twitter and Facebook. Now there is even talk of a possible cover-up by parents, coaches and school officials. Mouths dropped recently with the extension of the coach’s contract. Maybe the turf on this particular football field is indeed hallowed ground.
The two young men have been found guilty, will be punished and will carry this stigma with them for the rest of their lives. If perchance they had dreams of gridiron glory, those dreams are surely shattered.
The moral compass pointing where?
There are larger issues here that beg to be considered. What’s happened to that intangible sense of morality and decency that helps define our humanity? What made this event a cyberspace photo op? How could those young people have had so little regard for another human being? How could anyone not have recognized that this was unacceptable, despicable behavior? Why didn’t anyone step up and say stop?
Then there are those really troubling questions we’ve all asked more than once. Where were the parents? Where were any parents?
And where in heaven’s name is the parenting?
Editor’s note: Tom Tozer of Nashville and Bill Black of Murfreesboro may be contacted at or visit

Published in The Messenger 5.16.13

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