Wow, here we go again. I turned on the news yesterday only to see yet another report of a group of girls beating another sister near death. Words can't quite describe the feelings I have as I make this posts.
This story breaks just weeks after a similar incident was caught on tape in
Atlanta of a group of young women doing the very same thing. As I viewed
the news report and listened to reporters share details of the brutal beating,I couldn’t help but wonder if the reason that those standing around chose to watch and even cheer is an indication that we are increasingly becoming desensitized as a people.
When you view the video of the incident which took place after school in a Brooklyn, NY, McDonald's, you can clearly see and hear a large crowd of on-lookers watching everything go down. While it is reported thatMcDonald’s employees are said to have called the police, the video clearly shows that not one call was made to the local police by those in the crowdas the girl was being viciously beaten by multiple people. Yet and still, one or more observers had the presence of mind to pull out a camera and record every gruesome blow.
Don't get me wrong, technology is great and will likely be used to prosecute those who were involved, but the question I pose to all of us is when and why has this become a norm in our society? It's not okay!!! This is not some sick television show or movie script with body doubles or stunt people, this is real life. Hello people...scenes like this should not be viewed as entertainment because these are human beings who are experiencing tremendous pain on multiple levels and not actors in a make believe action scene who can return to their lives once the director shouts, “Cut, that’s a wrap”.
As for those of us who witnessed the scene firsthand through the media, chances are that 99% of the viewers may never realize the full impact of the consequences to those directly involved, but sadly we aren’t even aware of the consequences or impact to our own individual and collective lives. If we haven’t already, this might just be an opportunity to ask ourselves questions like:
More importantly, am I my sisters keeper? If we watched this scene and felt nothing, more serious questions might be,
The bottom line is, do we have the courage to do the right thing for the right reason and because it’s part of our responsibility as members of society-at-large? These are not actors for our amusement, they are real girls with real lives; girls with mothers, fathers, brothers, sisters, grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins, friends, neighbors, classmates, church members, co-workers and acquaintances. If that's not enough, most of these young girls will one day be someones mother. If help is not provided, we run the risk of them raising another generation of hurting, angry children.
Sadly, the incident that unfolded has a long range effect that extends beyond the individuals involved. I’m sure that the rage we saw unleashed on the victim was unthinkable and felt by everyone who knows and has a personal relationship with one or more of the girls involved; they are all victims of the same nightmare.
What is the source of rage that our daughters are dealing with today? Well do you really have to ask? We can go down the list with our theories and data. It's not enough to simply track the source of rage, we have to go a step further and ask ourselves, what tools and skills are we equipping our children with to help them handle the rage, anger, disappointment and hopelessness that many of them feel?
When we as a society drop the ball, look the other way or throw our hands in the air as if there is no hope for this generation or say they are a lost cause, it leaves them with their young impressionable minds to try and figure it out for themselves. If they are not taught basic life skills, conflict resolution and social skills, it makes many of the negative images and examples they are exposed to daily through television and music their point of reference. If our children are not given something to hope for or believe in, they will fall for anything, including the lie that has been created that this kind of behavior is normal and okay.
As I sit here today, I am thankful the victim of this attack survived and I hope justice will prevail, but let's be clear, chances are this is one of many similar incidences that has taken place this week alone. This just happened to be caught on tape and put on national television. We will never know the actual count for just how often violence is the answer used to resolve conflict among people of all ages.
The question I leave with us all today, is how can we as a society do a better job at preventing future incidents? We must listen closely to our daughters and to what is spoken and unspoken. We must pray diligently with and for them daily as well as for those they befriend. Last but not least, we must take time out of our precious schedules to spend with them and teach them who they are and who they were created to be rather than allowing society to do our job.
Our girls need to know that they are precious GEMS, created with purpose and possibilities. We've got to protect them and teach them the way by instilling in them great worth and value, and we have to lead by example. The reality is that some of this aggressive behavior is taught and caught so it’s our job as parents, mentors and youth advocates to re-write the script and become the major editors and directors in their lives. We must teach them to guard their gates and their hearts.
Despite the media labeling our girls as savages, I remain hopeful for this generation. I know it will take a lot of work and the commitment of families and the community-at-large, but I am confident that we can show our girls the way because they are depending on us, and they are certainly worth the task as are our young men.
Nicole Steele is President of GEM Makers, LLC and Executive Director of Diamond In The Rough a faith-based leadership program that provides group mentoring, life skills training and career coaching to girls ages 4-18. For more information on Diamond In The Rough visit www.ditr.org or call (678) 376-9676.
Copyright 2015 Nicole Steele and GEM Makers LLC. Used with permission.
Through Her Priceless Posts, Nicole Steele shares her Priceless Perspective on real life issues pertaining to women, girls, families and youth workers.