As your Father I love you very much and there is a message I want to share with you in the hopes that you will understand how much I love you and the responsibility you have to protect yourself as I cannot be with you all the time. You are such a big part of my Life and your eternal, spiritual, physical, and mental welfare is of utmost importance to me. If you don’t make good choices you don’t just risk your physical and emotional welfare but your spiritual welfare as well.
Every year many people are victims of Crime. Many people could of prevented becoming victims of crime if they had made better choices. What could of been Done differently? Did these victims take measures to protect themselves? Or did they make some dumb choices that lead to becoming a Victim. This is not to say that the perpetrators of crime are somehow innocent because of your choices, however the tough questions need to be asked. Would they be a victim today if they had made better choices? Did they learn from this experience. I do not wish to blame the Victim in writing this. This is not about blaming the victim. To illustrate what I mean, when you came home one day complaining that another kid was “bullying” you, one that is known to be a bully I asked you how it started. you said that you went to play with her and everything was going fine till she started to bully you. This other kid was known to be a trouble maker and cause problems. You still choose to play with that person and as a result problems happened. I asked you Why do you continue to play with this other kid knowing she regularly causes problems, you can’t come complain to me when you keep putting yourself in that position. I am glad to say that you do not play with that kid anymore and you avoid her whenever she is around. I have occasionally had to get involved but generally it is not a problem any more. This is not blaming you for the choices of another, I was educating you on that fact that your choices can lead to problems that could otherwise be avoided.
There are many examples of crimes that have happened where the victim could of prevented it from happening if they had just made better choices. As your father there are some crimes that I cannot help but worry about when it comes to you Girls. Take the case of Rehtaeh Parsons for example. I feel for this family and am certainly sorry for there loss of there daughter. However when we look at the facts of the case. There has been much in the media over this case about stopping cyber bullying and distribution of child porn. Many have talked about the horrible atrocity that has happened and how she was innocent and the media has behaved as if there was nothing that could of been done to prevent this terrible tragedy from happening. I don’t mean to belittle or make of light of what she suffered. I only wish to use this case to highlight what I feel has been intentionally left out of the conversation about our own responsibilities to ourselves. This young girl had gone to a party, participated in illegal drinking and drug use and became drunk. The boys that are accused of raping her took some pictures of themselves with her engaged in sex, the pictures themselves do not prove that she was raped, they just proved that she had a sexual encounter. She went to this party, partook of dangerous mind altering substances and ended up having sex whether by consent or otherwise, it could of been prevented. The boys took pictures of this encounter and spread the pictures around the internet. It was not until the pictures got spread that the story that she was gang raped came to light. Perhaps she did not remember whether she gave consent or not. The spreading of the pictures of this event was absolutely and undeniably wrong, but that does not abdicated her responsibility for the choices she made that led to this compromising situation.
Given the facts of the case their has been a lot of assumptions as to who was in the wrong and who was right. The thing is all parties involved made some extremely poor choices. Rehtaeh is just as guilty for her choices as the boys involved are for theirs. So what could she have done to prevent this tragedy. There is quite a bit she could of done. She could of left the party. She could of chosen not to partake of the drugs and alcohol. She could of chosen not to have sex if it was consensual. None of the pictures reportedly showed that any force was used against her, from what I understand. She may very well of been gang raped, I don’t dispute that possibility. When we look at what choices led to this situation there is a lot that could of been done to prevent this situation to begin with. She could of chosen to stay home or spend time with other friends. All of her choices that night lead to the problems, while she is not responsible for the choices of others, this situation could of easily been avoided.
We are so blessed to have the gospel and the standards of the church. Situations like Rehtaeh’s are why it is so vital and important that we your parents place restrictions on you our children to adhere to the standard of the Church. For the strength of youth pamphlet from the church gives clear standards that will keep us safe from harm. Within this pamphlet you are taught to uphold and live to certain pre determined standards that will keep you safe and out of harms way.
Lets look at some of the standards that will help protect you from the dangers that Rehtaeh encountered.
1) Dress and appearance. It is vitally important that your keep modest dress to show respect for yourself and The lord. Don’t wear clothing that invites unwanted sexual advances and feelings in others. Respect your body and others
2) Dating. Date only those with standards that align to the gospel. Don’t go to dates alone and go in groups till you are of age to move beyond that. It is recommend that you date numerous persons prior to pairing off. As a young woman you don’t need a boyfriend at such a young age.
3) Friends. The importance of choosing good friends is paramount in maintaining so much of your gospel standards. Choose friends who will uplift and support you in your standards of Conduct rather than tear you down and put you in a position that will compromise your ability to live a righteousness life.
4) Sexual purity. Always keep your self sexually pure. Do not dress in a way that invites unwanted sexual advances. Do not attend social activities that would compromise this standard.
5) physical and emotional health. This is a 2 part standard. When it comes to physical health it is important to keep yourself pure and clean from harmful substances, Especially Illegal drugs, some legal drugs and alcohol. These drugs impact your ability to make good choices and have a damaging effect on your physical well being. When intoxicated or high you lose contact with the spirit and you ability to make the right choices. Mental health is just as important. In my own experience the best way to maintain good mental health is to have a testimony of the gospel and live so that the spirit can be with you at all times. When you live in harmony with the gospel of Jesus Christ your ability to cope with the stresses and trials of life will be much greater than without. Living the gospel has the effect of uplifting us and helping us to be happy and mentally healthy despite our trials. If you are struggling with debilitating emotions then talk to our bishop and us; your parents, we will help you seek the help you need. Seeking help in drugs does not help but hinder us. There are other ways.
6) Repent. If you do sin and we all do then repent. Go before God in prayer and ask his forgiveness
These standards from the strength for youth are only some of the ones mentioned but there are many more. I would like to add however one vitally important tool to prevent yourself from becoming a victim. It is simple yet I believe the most important tool we can use. MAKE GOOD CHOICES! I cannot emphasize that enough. Be smart. Do not get involved in questionable activities. Stay away from those who would pressure you into making wrong choices. Stay away from environments that will harm you physically, spiritually, mentally or otherwise. Protect yourself. Live so that the spirit can guide you in your choices. This is the only way you can effectively protect your self. Please, communicate with us, talk to us, don’t hide your troubles. You can trust us. Help us help you to make the right choices so that you do not become the next victim of a highly preventable crime in so many cases.
If you hold to the gospel and have the spirit as your guide you will be protected all you days, may God bless you, guide you and protect you
With love your Father