• Fri, Nov 30 2012

Mommy Shaming At It’s Worst – Blaming The Parents Of Rape And Murder Victims For What Happened To Their Child

We are all fully aware that when someone is raped there is a tendency to place blame on the victim. We, as humans, have gotten a bit better about this, but sadly a lot of people still believe that when a person is raped, they are at least somewhat responsible for the crime. When the individual raped or murdered or kidnapped is a minor, we tend to place the blame on the parents, which is what is going on in the article I posted yesterday about the Texas girl who was gang-raped by a pack of 20 men and young men. The Texas case is just a small example, but how many times have we read a news story or seen something awful that happened on Dateline involving a minor and our first inclination is to think “Where were the parents?” In a lot of cases, I would even say the majority of cases, the parents were right there. They were good parents. They were just like you and me.

There are many cases where we can blame a parents for a crime committed against a child. If a child is being sexually abused, informs a parent about this, and the parent ignores the child, we can place some blame here. If a parent trades her 5-year-old daughter for sex in order to settle a drug debt, it is partially this parents fault (and also the fault of the adult who accepted the trade and raped and murdered the child.) When a parents leaves a baby in a car so they can go to a bar and drink and the baby dies, the parent is to blame.  I’m sure we can think of many more examples where full or partial blame can be attributed to the parents, but in some many cases, it wasn’t the parent’s fault at all.

If we let our daughters wear shorts to school and they are raped it is not our fault. People should be able to wear whatever they want without being afraid of having a crime committed against them. If we let our kids ride a bike after school alone, and the kid is old enough to be riding a bike alone (I’m talking about a 10 or 11-year-old) and they are kidnapped it is not the parent’s fault. If our daughter is tall for her age, or has developed breasts, or looks older than she appears and she is raped, it is not the parent’s fault. If our teens go to parties and get drunk (and, as much as I talk to my own kids about this, it will happen. Teenagers get drunk at parties) and are raped it is not our fault, and it is not their fault either. We need to start blaming the perpetrators of crimes and stop blaming the victims and the victim’s parents.

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  • Justme

    A terrible event like any of the ones that you described is a parent’s worst nightmare. I think we all want to believe the fairy tale that if we do this, that and the other….our children will stay safe. Unfortunately, that just isn’t the case.

    I’m not defending parent blaming but I can understand how that might be a person’s first (okay…second after blaming the perpetrator) inclination – where was the parent? As if answering this question with “they weren’t there” will somehow give us a map as to how to keep our children safe. “If I don’t let her walk to school, she’ll be okay.” “If I put a GPS tracker on her, she will never be kidnapped.” “If I monitor her Facebook religiously, she will be surrounded by good kids for the rest of her life.”

    I deal with the same thing in the middle school. If we have an incident, the first thing the parent asks is “where were the teachers.” The same rule applies….we cannot be everywhere every single child is during the day.

    At what point are we going to hold the children (or the perpetrators) accountable for their actions, regardless of who was or wasn’t present?

    Some people might not agree with this tactic and that’s fine because we’re all entitled to our own personal belief system, but the only way I’ve found to adequately deal with the anxiety of “what if” regarding my daughter is to pray for her safety and health when I cannot be there.

    But that’s Justme.

  • http://www.facebook.com/SandraMort Sandra L Mort

    When Katie Alison Granju’s son Henry was beaten and later died, my online friends were all very emotionally involved. It seemed that the people who were blaming her for her son’s death were attempting to reassure themselves that Katie was at fault somehow, thus protecting their own children from that kind of horror. Logical? Of course not. But sometimes the world just seems like a terrible, terrifying place and we grasp at straws. And thinking that another mother who parents the way we do, holds similar family values, was LIKE US was just a little too close to home for some people.

    I think that reading Protecting the Gift and The Gift of Fear both offer valuable insight into what fears are realistic and what fears are being stirred up by media and other parents. It makes it easier to make rational decisions about what our children are permitted to do. It certainly does seem safer to keep them under lock and key at all times, but it’s not a realistic option for the long term.