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Sex, Lies & Our Young Men

October 1st, 2010 · 1 Comment

When rugby league player Brett Stewart was acquitted of sexual assault yesterday, his family, friends and fans were no doubt thankful that our judicial system had done its job.

In March 2009 a 17-year-old woman accused Stewart of digital rape. He protested his innocence amid a highly public he said/she said media circus but had to wear the allegations for 17 months.

I work with the twenty-something girlfriend of one of Stewart’s best mates. From day one she was certain of his innocence, such was his reputation as a really nice guy. Stewart’s girlfriend stuck by him, claiming there was no way a guy like him would do what he was being accused of. My teenage son also assured me that the footballer wasn’t the sort of guy who would assault a woman, based entirely on his respect for him as a role model. Turns out they were right, but along the way Stewart’s good guy image took a beating. Mud sticks.

We encourage young women to step forward and shot loudly if they are the victim of sexual harassment or assault. Gen Y and Gen Next women are showing the courage and strength that previous generations lacked. More power to them.

But it’s to our sons that we must now turn our attention. I have raised my two sons to respect women. They know what it means when a woman says, “no”. But the modern danger for young men is the woman who would falsely accuse them of assault for reasons of revenge, attention, spite or mental illness.

I subscribe to the view that prevention is better than cure so I’ve used the Brett Stewart example to explain to my boys that they can never be too careful. If a young man is alone with a woman and she cries foul, he will always be assumed guilty until proven innocent. As the mother of sons I fear the consequences of a night out with the boys if young women become part of the mix.

What can parents do to help their teenagers avoid a messy situation like the Stewart affair? Preventing them from drinking alcohol and partying once they reach the legal age is unrealistic; as is tying them to a chair to stop them from going anywhere at all.

It’s important not to put the fear of god into your sons. Women are not the enemy, mostly. But until he meets a young woman that he knows well and can trust, there’s safety in numbers.

Tags: Law · Media · Relationships · Sport · Violence · sex

1 response so far ↓

  • 1 life in a pink fibro // Oct 1, 2010 at 12:20 am

    I think your thoughts are good. I will raise them to respect women – and to have enough respect for themselves to be aware of all that can go wrong. What else can you do?

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