Why I Fear for Our Children after #metoo

Thanks to men our country has chosen to place in power, the very livelihoods and well-being of young men all over this country are at risk. From a mom of all boys, but more so a juvenile prosecutor, I can say with certainty this man and his like have permanently altered the future of our up-and-coming young men as we know it.  And not in a good way. While most people acknowledge that change is necessary to protect the young women in the world, the media coverage, social media rants and angry protests currently plaguing this country are not the way to effectuate the necessary change. Just as with every other social justice issue in this country, we Americans are really good at talking but really bad at doing.

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First off, let me say this is in no way meant to disparage the young women who have suffered from sexual assault at home, at school, in college, or in the workplace. Young women who have ever been subject to any sort of force or coercion are victims, and never deserved what happened to them. Indisputably, the actions of the men that led to the attacks against these young women are both unacceptable and unforgivable. Unfortunately, whether we like it or not, there will always be a sector of our society raised to think and act in the way our current political candidates are behaving. However, believe it or not, protests, Facebook shaming, and outright indignation are not going to fix this problem.

That said, launching a Salem style witch-hunt against all white men, in general, is simply unfair to an entire class of people too. I believe in the concept of fundamental fairness, and I do not believe in my heart or mind that the sins of some should forever change the future for all. Right now, white men across the country are being targeted, shamed, and disparaged for the ‘sins of the father.’ My husband is a good man, my father is a good man, my brothers and my boys are good, kind, respectful young men who do not deserve to be subjected to what I fear is in their future because of the bad behavior of those this country has CHOSEN to put in power.

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To the moms of little boys (and girls) everywhere our children are no longer safe. While some may claim that teaching our boys basic human decency, humility, and respect is all that is necessary that could not be further from the truth. Our boys will not only be held to a higher and somewhat unattainable standard from now on, but their every move will be scrutinized looking for some degree of disgrace. Realizing these young boys will one day be teenagers and college-age young men having to live in the shadow of their predecessors is frightening.

But similarly, young girls will continue to be questioned, disbelieved, and discredited with every social media post and outfit choice. Further, I fear we have endangered an entire generation of young, attractive twenty-something females because there’s not a male run business out there who is not now wary of hiring and taking on the liability of working with these attractive young women.

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As a mom, I am afraid for my children because as a prosecutor I know how detrimental these last few weeks have been. No longer will common teenage indiscretions, even if consensual, be excused. While some may think this is exaggerated, walk a day in my prosecutorial shoes and you will see it is not. From bad breakups to inappropriate sexual photos, young men of the up-and-coming generation are going to end up with criminal records forever marring their futures.

What do I mean by that? Many teenage sexual assault allegations come out of bad high school break-ups, sexual regrets, college indiscretions, and parents discovering secret relationships. In today’s political climate, there is not going to be a law enforcement agency out there willing to use their discretion and risk public shaming on these matters. This is the equivalent of the zero-tolerance policies in many of our schools; while it may look reasonable on paper it is not in practice. And here is why: the second your child is criminally accused of a sexual assault (or any crime really) that charge goes on their “criminal record.” What that means for our young men is that they will be charged, arrested, and, even if not prosecuted, forever marred with a criminal record which will be accessible by colleges, prospective employers and the military well into their early twenties. Understand that even if these allegations are deemed to be false the charge will remain on your child’s record for their near and very important future.

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Just as with school shootings where there was an influx of law enforcement presence, arrests of children and prosecution of teens in our schools following the Parkland massacre, we are already beginning to see the same with sexual assault allegations. And just as with school shootings where children were arrested and charged with no real change where it mattered – the gun laws – sexual assault claims are headed in the same direction. Truthfully, the culprits who have instituted and continued this culture of sexual assault in our country will likely remain unscathed while our upcoming generations will be negatively impacted by their predecessors’ poor choices, lies, and abuse of power. The futures of the average teenage boy will be subject to severe devastation with a punishment that may not fit the crime.

When faced with something as pervasive as decades of sexual assault by white men in power in this country there should be repercussions, we just need them to be instituted in the right place and fashion. Unfortunately, in this case, these repercussions will not only affect those offenders, if they even truly affect the offenders at all.

Already non-sexual actions are being called out across social media as inappropriate, implementing a power structure by teaching our girls from a very young age that affection must be given in exchange for objects, attention, and the like. However, what you won’t see are examples of these same actions being taught to boys while truthfully, it applies across the board. In schools, incidents that are non-sexual but even remotely aggressive are being called into question as to whether truly enforcing standards of a sexual power struggle or at least creating an environment of submission and domination between girls and boys.

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I am afraid for my boys, not because I think they will do wrong, but because I fear the level of responsibility and expectations our children should have for themselves are being displaced.

I was raised to be a confident, self-assured young woman who never questioned my value or my worth. And while this may not be the norm it should be. That said, it starts at home. Yes, I said it. It starts at home. While young men need to be taught kindness, humility, and respect, young women need to be taught self-worth, confidence, and self-respect. Young women who are too afraid to report sexual assault or who fall victim to exchanging sexual favors are not only victims of white men or boys but frequently victims of poor parenting. Young ladies should not be scared to tell their parents when something bad has happened, nor should they be afraid to speak their minds, stand up for themselves and say “NO.” Sexual assault by coercion and rape are two different things and we need to stop grouping them together. While it is time to stop this societal problem, it is also time to stop reducing the female population to a needy group who require large-scale social movements to effect change, rather we need to teach our young ladies to stand up for themselves.

Empowerment starts in the home. Teach your daughters to stand up for themselves no matter the risk. Empower them by being a supportive and involved parent. Stop blaming others for continuing this patriarchy and change it now in the way YOU raise your children. Because truthfully, that is all you can do. Change does not begin with marches and movements, it begins at home. It begins by raising a generation to be different, to be informed, and to be responsible for their own actions no matter their gender.

Check out another mom’s perspective on how Rape Culture is Real: Talking to Our Boys About Consent.

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Kristin dePaula
Kristin dePaula
Kristin is a Montessori Mama who spends her days working as a lawyer with at-risk youth and her nights chasing her 4 boys on their latest adventure. She spends a significant amount of time in the kitchen creating healthy, organic, and delicious meals for her family, reading books with her boys, and at the soccer fields. Aspiring to make a difference in lives of others one child at a time, Kristin is passionate about social justice, early literacy, and early childhood education. While she loves scarves and boots, Kristin lives at the world's most famous beach with her husband, kids, extended family, and enough pets to open a zoo.