Those of you familiar with the Steubenville rape case involving a 16-year-old girl and members of the Big Red football team are probably also familiar with Alexandria Goddard, the blogger who gave the case worldwide media attention by delving deeper into the story and reporting her findings on her blog, Prinniefied. Since the case has garnered worldwide media attention, Alexandria has appeared on CNN and Dr. Phil, as well as many other news shows. She took the time to answer my questions about Steubenville, rape culture, and how we are raising our kids in this digital age.
For our readers who are curious about you, tell me about yourself and where you went to school and all of those other nosy details.
I am 45 years old and will finish my BS in Psychology in the fall. It was always important for me to finish my degree even though life sometimes gets in the way of doing so. I live with my two dogs, Winnie and Wilson. I have been writing about true crime for about 10 years now and usually try to focus not just on the crime and those accused, but the peripheral players and the psychological aspect of it. I present facts and incorporate social media into my articles and urge the reader to make an informed decision rather than relying on what mainstream media might offer them.
Growing up as the young Alexandria, did you always want to be a writer? What compelled you to start writing about true crime?
No, I actually wanted to be an attorney. Criminal cases have always intrigued me. I used to sneak my aunt’s “True Detective” magazines and read them when I was young. The psychology behind the actors and those involved has always fascinated me and that I think is a large part in why I started to write about them. To try to find understanding myself and to compel others to talk about not just the crime, but what makes people behave criminally.
We’ve talked about our moms briefly, and I know your mom is a big fan of your work. What has she said about the Steubenville case and all of the press you have been getting?
She is very proud of me. She jokes that she has to schedule phone calls via Twitter now, but she is very proud of what I have been able to accomplish and feels a sense of satisfaction that she taught me to always stand up for what I believe is right, even if it means at times I stand alone.
How did the Steubenville case happen? You read a short news story and it caught your attention because you grew up there and because of your other work. Did you basically think, “not so fast, there has to be more than this?” You have briefly mentioned that you received some nasty emails and comments. Were local furious you were investigating this?
I used to live in Steubenville years ago and know how the football culture there is. It is like nothing I have ever seen in any other city. When I read that two Big Red football players had been charged and arrested for rape, I became inquisitive as to what others were saying about this. In my research, I fanned out and created a net around the two accused’s social networks. Within two hours of research, I had a pretty good idea from the various tweets of what had happened that night – and it wasn’t anything that the local media was sharing. It was then that I wrote the first piece: Big Red Players Accused of Rape & Kidnapping.
What are we missing about our kids in regard to social media. It’s all very secret life of the teenager but what are you seeing when you investigate kids for parents? What alarms you and what do you think parents need to be aware of? Tell me about creep your kids.
What we are missing is that teens are constantly communicating via social media whether it is Twitter or Facebook, or texting. They have access to the Internet and social media 24/7 through their cell phones. When I do social media profiles I am seeing teens post photos of their learners’ permit in full showing name and address. This seems innocuous to the teen because they are just sharing the joy of getting their permit, but to a stranger they have just given WAY more information than should be out there about them. They are posting inappropriate photographs and digital footprints don’t go away. Teens don’t think about the “what ifs” or the future but when they are job hunting or applying for colleges. This digital footprint can cause issues. My website is Creep Your Kids and we provide social media profile analysis for parents that provides a comprehensive picture of what their teen is doing online, and if they are practicing internet safety.
What is the answer? The great million dollar question! More rape awareness for girls? Boys? How can we raise kids that aren’t total monsters in this age of social media and rape culture and violence towards each other — women and girls especially, and bullying?
We can start by teaching our children about compassion and empathy. We can tell them that when you do the right thing – you may not always be the most popular person and sometimes in standing up for what is right you might be standing alone, but in time the rest will follow. It is important that they know that it is honorable to do the right thing even though it might not be the most popular plan of action at the time.
On a lot of the programs you have been on, and interviews, I notice that no matter how intelligent and researched the interviewer is, there seems to always be a shade of victim-blaming going on, in regard to the Steubenville case especially. When it is mentioned that the Jane Doe was drunk or previously sexually active, how do that makes you feel?
It makes me sad and upset that there are still these attitudes about rape. We don’t ask murder victims what they did to get killed. We don’t ask homeowners after they have been burglarized “well why didn’t you hide your valuables better?” So why should we ask any victim of sexual violence what he or she did to deserve it?
Do you think Steubenville is corrupt as the local leaks suggests?
I think that there is a long, well-documented history of corruption and that the people who live there were apprehensive enough about speaking out that they chose to wear the mask of Anonymous to protect their identities at the last protest. That is what speaks loudest to me – not whether I make an allegation of corruption, but that others are saying it without saying it.
Do you think local law enforcement has failed our Jane Doe? What should have been done differently? How do you think all of the media attention will affect the case?
There are some very professional and upstanding officers on the Steubenville Police Department’s force. I think that perhaps they were unprepared for an investigation with such a large cyber component, as they admitted they were not equipped to handle a cyber investigation when they referred the hacking of rollredroll to the feds. I hope that mainstream media is vetting information before they release it. I have seen some things that have been released that are rumors. Good journalists don’t report rumors.
What is next for you? Are you going to write a book about the case?
I may write a book about this case. There are so many different aspects of this case that have affected how people view social media, and how one’s digital footprint impacts them long-term.
Alexandria has offered to answer any questions our readers have regarding the following interview. Feel free to post any questions you have in the comments and she will respond.
(Photo: Alexandria Goddard)