The Brock Turner judgment has rocked the nation, with many people thinking that he received too lenient of a sentence for the crime that he committed. But no matter where you stand on the judge’s ruling, Turner was found guilty of raping an unconscious woman.
Even worse? He was considered a “golden child.” Brock Turner was never in much trouble and attended the acclaimed Stanford University, on scholarship, with Olympic aspirations.
He still committed rape. That’s something of a “worst-case scenario” for any parent—nobody wants their child to be raped, and nobody wants their child to commit rape.
— Salon (@Salon) June 9, 2016
Is there any way that parents can steer their sons away from this sort of brutal behavior? Are there any telltale signs?
We sat down with some medical professionals to get their read on the situation.
Dr. Carole Lieberman wrote a book that touched on the subject, called Bad Boys: How We Love Them, How to Live with Them, When to Leave Them.
She told us that there are certainly several things to look out for with young boys:
- “Has your son been exposed to domestic violence?”
- “Has your son ever harmed any animals?”
- “Has your son ever set fires?”
- “Has your son ever pushed, slapped, hit or done worse to a girl?”
- “Has your son continued wetting his bed after toddler age?”
She also said that a son’s relationship to his parents is of utmost importance:
“The factor that is most important in determining whether sons become rapists is their relationship with their parents.
“And when a son has a father like Brock Turner’s, who claimed this was only ’20 minutes of action,’ the son is spurred on to become as macho and misogynistic as his dad.”
We also spoke to a clinical psychologist, Dr. Stephanie Wong.
She said it’s not so simple.
She wanted to point out that the fault cannot lie just with parents.
According to Dr. Wong, there are cultural factors to consider as well:
“I would not assert that the Turner case or any rape case is just attributed to ‘bad parenting.’ There are a number of sociology-cultural factors that may contribute to this behavior.
“Many individuals who rape may also have internalized societal views that this behavior is not necessarily that severe.”
Dr. Wong also notes that another thing to look out for is if the young man in question had a traumatic childhood, and if he was raped or molested:
“Many rapists also have gone through pretty traumatic childhoods, being molested or raped themselves.”
Dr. Steve Holland, a clinical psychologist who operates a group practice in Washington D.C., cautions that children nowadays are growing up in a hyper-sexualized culture.
— Barrett Johnson (@INFOforFamilies) September 17, 2015
He says that this can be detrimental to their growth:
“As a parent, you have to recognize that your kid’s in a sex-obsessed culture,” he says.
“Sex is seen as transactional and the roles of relationships is really kind of minimized.”
“It starts at a really young age.”
Dr. Holland recommends talking to your children about consent as early as middle school, since pornographic images are readily available to the younger generations.
He also notes that parents should be on the lookout for how their son and his friends talk about women. There are two main questions to ask yourself:
- “What are you observing about your son and your son’s group of friends and how they talk about women and how they interact with women?”
- “Do you get a sense that they are ‘out hunting?’ Do they talk in ways that are denigrating of girls?”
To be honest, there are too many factors to count when it comes to sussing out if your son could commit a crime as heinous as rape.
One thing is for certain: no parent wants to be in a situation like that.