A mother told me about an incident from her college days that could have ended tragically.
She didn’t drink in high school and was naïve as a college freshman, so when older girls in her sorority took her and some pledge sisters out and gave them each a pint of vodka, she obediently drank it.
Hours later, she passed out behind a dumpster. The girls who gave her the alcohol were nowhere to be found. Thankfully, a guy friend from high school was walking by and saw her. He picked her up and carried her back to her dormatory.
Another college girl was not a big drinker, yet her brother’s friend noticed her stumbling outside during a party and wandering off alone. He took her home to make sure she was safe, and only the next day did they realize that someone drugged her drink.
Then there was the college girl who needed a ride home from an off-campus party. She waited 45 minutes, and as she tried to get in the car of that night’s designated driver, a strong hand pulled her back.
It was a guy she’d taken to a formal, who told her, “Don’t get in that car because I saw that guy doing cocaine earlier.” This girl didn’t feel like waiting for another ride, but this guy insisted, so she stayed. On the way home, the designated driver hit a tree and severely injured his passengers.
What saved each of these girls was a guy who chose to do the right thing. A guy who knew them and felt compelled to look out for them like a sister.
Unfortunately, not all boys think this way. Not all boys (or girls) have a moral code that impacts their choices. Years ago, there was another story in the news about a girl who passed out behind a dumpster. A guy walked by, and instead of seeing a human being, he saw an opportunity. Rather than safely get her home, he sexually assaulted her.
The two boys who saved her were strangers. They treated her like a friend even though they’d never met.
In a perfect world, everyone would make good choices all the time. We wouldn’t have to worry about sexual assault, pornography, immoral people, deceitful people, binge drinking, underage drinking, drugs, a hook-up culture, promiscuity, and the terrors that can happen when people are sober and under the influence.
But in reality, we don’t live in a perfect world. We live in a broken, unpredictable world, where we can’t foresee events or the choices people will make. It’s a terrifying time to be raising kids, and while we adults are yelling at each other on social media, we have a generation of boys and girls desperately in need of guidance.
They need our help far more than the Internet needs our opinion.
Our kids are up against a culture that is darker, meaner, and more dangerous than what we knew growing up. And though we can’t prepare them for every scenario, we’d be foolish to think they can figure it out themselves.
I know a lot of great men and parents who are adamant about raising honorable, strong sons. They’re sickened by the stories of sexual assault, and though they’ve always talked with their sons about what it means to “respect girls” and “be a man,” they’ve beefed up those conversations. They’re instilling lessons like these:
“If you see a girl in trouble you help her, regardless of what your friends do.”
“A drunk girl cannot say ‘Yes’ to sex. She is incapable of making that decision. Period.”
“You can be a protector of girls or a predator of girls. You choose which you want to be.”
“What makes you ‘a man’ is taking care of people and providing for them. Being a mean does not mean the sexual conquest of girls.”
“When you take a girl on a date, you should bring her home in better condition than when you picked her up.”
“You are responsible for a girl’s reputation the entire time you’re with her.”
“Don’t talk about girls. Things that won’t stick with you will stick with her.”
I’m thankful for these conversations, yet we need more. We need men in every community – fathers, coaches, mentors, leaders, anyone boys look up to – stepping up to the plate to define for today’s boys what “being a man” really means.
At the time, I believe in teaching our girls to protect themselves. Telling them sexual assault is never okay and never a girl’s fault, but until we live in a world where every girl is safe, we must all be on-guard. We must do everything in our power to protect ourselves and other females. This means:
*Trusting your gut when a person gives you a funny vibe and staying away from them (lesson #1 in self-defense class).
* Always being aware of your surroundings and making eye contact (predators are less prone to attack you if you can ID them in a line-up)
* Taking self-defense lessons.
* Paying attention to red flags – when something doesn’t feel right, it usually isn’t right.
* Knowing predators don’t always look like predators. It may be your date to a party, a friendly guy who buys you drinks at the bar, a father, a professor, an uncle, your friend’s brother, or a seemingly harmless male.
* Being selective about where you go and who you go with (as my friend’s father always told her, “Now Sugar, don’t you go out with just anybody.”)
* Learning to use your voice and say “No.” In the book Boundaries, the author explains how God gives you your life, body, and time as gifts, and your job is to protect those gifts by setting boundaries. Don’t let anybody – even a boss, relative, or friend – coerce, manipulate or guilt-trip you into any activity that makes you uncomfortable.
* Being in control of yourself, your body, and your drink, and avoiding situations where trouble is likely to arise.
* Never taking a drink from someone, even a Coke, or setting your drink down (since a Solo cup can have a drug slipped as you’re holding it, the best option is to drink from a bottle with a screw-top).
* Fighting like hell and going ballistic if anyone tries to hurt you or take advantage of you.
* Seeking help and telling someone immediately if you have been hurt.
* Knowing that alcohol and drugs impair judgment and motor skills, making it harder to defend yourself if a problem arises.
* Having good girl friends and good guy friends who have your back and look out for you.
I want to elaborate on the last point – girls having good guy friends – as an extra measure of protection.
In college, I had a good guy friend from high school who had a word with any fraternity brother who asked me out. It was one of those “Treat her right or you’ll deal with me” talks. While I appreciated it, it also irked me. I remember thinking, “Does he think I’m a baby? That I can’t take care of myself?”
I saw this friend at a football game two years ago and thanked him. Only now do I realize he was protecting me from forces I didn’t see. Since those boys didn’t know me, he set the record straight before the first date began. He didn’t want any guy to have the wrong idea about me, and frankly, I wish every girl had a friend like that.
He was my filter, too, someone who could tell me what a guy was really like. Some guys act very different around girls than they do around guys (just like some girls) and it’s priceless to have someone on the other side who sees the truth and is willing to protect, stick up for, and go to bat for a girl.
I recently heard of a young man who talked to high school senior girls about the things college boys are thinking to prepare them for what they can’t see.
Only after accepting Christ in 20’s did this young man realize how wrong the prevailing mindset is. With deep regret and tears in his eyes he said, “When college boys look at all the beautiful girls on a campus, it’s like seeing a sea of porn. They don’t see you. They don’t know you. It’s not like high school where the boys grew up with you and know your history and your family, and if they do something wrong, it’ll get back to their mother and yours. You’ve got to be aware of what you’re up against.”
My purpose in sharing these nitty-gritty realities isn’t to spark debate, but to encourage parents to have nitty-gritty talks with their sons and daughters. Start the talks early to prepare them for the road ahead, and don’t think you’re protecting your child’s innocence by avoiding them. Your child will face scenarios and mindsets sooner than you think, and waiting until you think they’re ready (like high school) is often too late.
There’s a country song called Take a Drunk Girl Home that is relevant to our times. The chorus goes like this:
Take a drunk girl home
Let her sleep all alone
Leave her keys on the counter and your number by the phone
Pick up her life she threw on the floor
Leave the hall lights on walk out and lock the door
That’s how she knows the difference between a boy and man
Take a drunk girl home.
Just because a person is intoxicated (or vulnerable) doesn’t give anyone an excuse to take advantage of them. As my opening stories illustrated, two people can face the same scenario yet make opposite choices. They can be a protector or a predator. What’s often the defining factor is whether they live by a moral code.
In our world today, people no longer see God’s image in each other. That is the root issue of every injustice and act of hate. As our sons and daughters grow up and mingle with the opposite sex, we need a village of adults teaching them (and reminding them) to make good choices, act with dignity, treat each other with dignity, look out for each other, and help those peers who need help – even it’s a stranger – just like they would a lifelong friend.
Sexual assault is never a girl’s fault. If you or someone you love needs help or counsel, here are two resources:
I’ve written two books for teen & tween girls designed to empower them through faith. Both Liked and 10 Ultimate Truths Girls Should Know have been used widely across the U.S. for small group studies.
Finally, I’ll be in Franklin, TN, for a mother/daughter event at Franklin First UMC on Thursday, Nov. 15 at 6 p.m. My topic is “Fearless: Living a Life of Purpose, Passion, and Action”, and you can register/purchase tickets here. Please join us and bring your daughter, friends, a small group, a youth group, or your favorite girl age 5th grade and up.
Posted by Kari on October 24, 2018