To the Editor:
I cannot even begin to express how thoroughly disturbed I was regarding this past week’s article. In a culture where women and young girls are often sexualized in the media, this article’s content (not just the events that took place, but the way they were written and published) makes it clear the battle to help our youth is far from over. Make no mistake, I am outraged something like this was even able to occur in our community, but just as angry and disgusted how it was portrayed in the newspaper. Only the victim’s identity was protected in last week’s article, because clearly, nothing else was important to the author. The style in which the article was written almost lends itself to prurient interests, bringing to light extreme details that the public did not need to read or know.
According to the Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network, 54 percent of sexual violence crimes are not reported to the police. After reading last week’s article, can you imagine why? Granite Falls and the Upper Sioux Community are small, and I’d like to wager that people will be slow to deny that news travels fast. With the details of this crime unnecessarily painted out for the entire surrounding areas to see, I can’t even imagine how much harder that will be for the victim to process and move on from what has happened to her—or for how long her identity will remain anonymous. She has already had to come forward and relive this experience by reporting it, and I highly doubt she will find comfort in knowing the rest of the community now know the details of her experience as well.
There was no respect for the victim in last week’s article, nor any empathy on behalf of the author. This is a young girl we’re talking about—is there no limit to what is ethical when speaking of an underage child? Making your community aware of unsafe citizens is one thing, but spelling out every detail of a sexual crime, all of which includes an underage person still within the community? I couldn’t believe it was even published. As a woman who has spent many hours (and a large part of my undergrad thesis) to studying how to fight against the sexualization of young girls, I can say with conviction that the details presented in this article will hurt the victim, not help her.
The age of consent exists for a reason. Pre-teens and teenagers are still developing and exploring the mental, emotional, and physical complexities of their minds and bodies. They are not always the best judge of what is right and healthy, and when people take advantage of that, it can cripple youth throughout the rest of their adolescent experience, and well into adulthood. The author should have respected this age of consent, as well as better judgment, regarding what is appropriate (as far as what the community needs to know) and what isn’t. As an older sister to a fifth grade girl, all I can convey is parents and siblings, PLEASE be present, positive figures in your younger family members’ lives.
Page 2 of 2 - I can only hope Granite Falls and the Upper Sioux Community can respect a young girl’s privacy as she begins to cope with the recent injustice done to her. I also hope we can stand behind her as healthy, safe sources of strength and support.