In the small community in which I live there have recently been two heinous crimes against women; one against an eighth grade girl and one against a mother with two children. While crimes involving women and girls as victims are nothing new, the rarity of these types of crimes in my area caused visible shock among neighbors and even my own sons whose friends had parents who knew one of the victims. Everyone was affected.
The question arose and was addressed in the local paper: How can we keep girls and women safe? How can we set limits that ensure their ongoing safety?
There is no one answer to this question and while we struggle to find balance and recovery in our own lives, we must continually give the message not only to our young girls, but to our boys as well: There is a line of appropriate behavior and you must not cross the line.
But how? How do we instill this value into the characters of our nation's youth so firmly that eighth graders are not attacked and grown women are no longer attacked years later?
For many girls, the social acceptance gained as a result of ignoring one's own warning signals or feelings of crossing boundaries is the sole reason for letting down her guard or engaging in drug and alcohol use and abuse which can lead to very dangerous situations.
We need to teach our young people that having 750 friends on facebook or in real life does not make you important. It's okay to have two friends. It's okay to be a quiet person. It's okay to be "nerdy" or to be the one who doesn't want to stay out late, to drink, to use drugs.
So many of our young women are willing to treat themselves as they perceive the media treats them; as hot or not-hot, as a worthy contestant on a reality television show or a potential model, or a loser. There is so much more to life, so much more to growing and learning as a young woman that we, as adults are responsible to show these girls.