I was on the news in 2012 discussing the premature and tragic death of Audrie Pott. I was horrified by what had happened to this 15 year old girl from Northern California. Audrie Pott’s life was abbreviated after she hanged herself in a moment which was most likely full of despair. Approximately one week earlier, this young woman had been at a party where alcohol was flowing and consciences were apparently shut down. Audrie was sadly sexually assaulted by three young men and then as if that wasn’t horrible enough-photos of her body with obscenities scribbled on it with a Sharpie were circulated via cell phone. After this incident three teen boys pleaded guilty and faced some jail time for their tragic role. More recently, before this case came to trial scheduled for April 2015 the case was settled out of court.
I must say that I am delighted by the outcome for two of the boys. It is less clear what the outcome for the third boy was. Two of the boys were sentenced to what I refer to as “repair work.” I have always been a tremendous fan of “repair work” and advocate for this in all aspects of my professional and personal lives. I believe that to any extent possible people should fix what they have broken. The boys not only had to apologize and agree to be in a documentary about this case but they will also be involved in several presentations that cover sexual violence, sexting and blaming the victim of sexual crimes also referred to as “slut-shaming.” The families were ordered to pay 950,000 to the Potts’ family. No amount of money will bring their beloved daughter back to life but perhaps the family of the boys will feel the consequences of their sons’ behavior on many levels and will advocate for the importance of young men and women treating each other with dignity.
I believe, that people do not learn their lessons by simply being locked away. Individuals who rip, and tear at the very fabric of our society and destroy the lives, dignity and well-being of individuals and hence many generations of this family must be asked to feel and speak about all aspects of the crime publicly rather than be hidden away in a jail cell. Although I have little empathy for these young men they too need to learn about the effects of their egregious behavior whether or not alcohol is involved and parents must supervise and keep the alcohol from flowing. Social media, group behavior and alcohol have been proven to be a deadly triad over and over again.
Audrie Pott could have been your daughter or my daughter. These boys could also have been anyone’s sons. My recommendation is that parents keep an eye on your kids and jump in and hold them accountable before lives are fragmented and ended. You will be helping our society in so many ways. It is never too early to teach kids right from wrong and the importance of good judgment and self-regulation. All of us must learn the skill of resisting peer pressure as early as possible. Please share your thoughts with me about the Audrie Pott case.
I will be eagerly awaiting your feedback.