Last updated: August 24. 2013 5:17AM - 74 Views

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The Lima News

Summer was slipping away. Football practice had been going on for weeks and the start of school was around the corner. When the sun ducked behind the hills of Steubenville, Ohio, that Aug. 12 evening, a bunch of teenagers did what groups of teenagers have been doing for decades: They held that one last party of summer.

This one got out of hand quickly, however.

During the wild night of revelry, two members of the high school football team took advantage of a 16-year-old girl from Weirton, W.Va. – that town across the Ohio River in that other state. The girl was so inebriated that they called her “the dead girl” in text messages. Others chronicled the evening in texts, photos and videos that traveled to all ends of the earth via the Internet.

Their laughter was her shame.

The nation became captivated by the story for the next seven months, but why? Maybe it’s because this story is sadly all too common in urban, suburban and rural settings. Teenage hormones combined with alcohol and drugs are the match that lights the powder keg. This time the explosion came in the form of rape.

Some teenagers said they didn’t realize they were watching a rape because it didn’t seem violent. Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine doesn’t buy it and plans to convene a grand jury to determine whether to prosecute those who remained silent. That may include the boys’ coach, Reno Saccoccia.

One of the horrible lessons of Steubenville is that such ugliness has the potential of happening anywhere in the United States. There are many questions worth asking of ourselves:

• Could this happen in the community in which you live?

• Would you have stepped forward if you saw this happening at a party?

•As a parent, what are the chances of one of your children being involved in such an incident? If they witnessed it, would they tell? Are they strong enough to resist peer pressure and avoid being a perpetrator or victim?

If you answered “yes” to any of the questions, take the time to find out why you feel that way. Most importantly, develop a plan to deal with it

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