I read a truly disturbing news story this morning about a young woman who was killed.
She was ‘accidentally’ strangled to death, by a man who will spend 12 years behind bars for his crime. The article says she died during sex, but she was very, very drunk, which suggests to me that she died while she was being raped – you can’t consent to sex if you’re more than twice the legal blood limit.
She was 16-years-old, and the man who did it was a friend of her boyfriend. It’s truly a horrific, devastating tragedy.
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And it got me thinking about safety – specifically, about teaching our kids to be safe.
I’m not suggesting in any way, shape or form that this beautiful girl deserved what happened to her, or that she is any way to blame for it.
However, there are ways we can minimise our risks in this world.
I have two daughters. In a perfect world, we wouldn’t have to teach them to be wary of the things that can happen if they don’t have their wits about them. We wouldn’t have to warn them about walking alone at night, or about drinking alcohol around others.
But it’s not a perfect world. So we do.
When my daughters grow up and start experimenting with drugs and alcohol and boys and sex, and all of the things teenage girls eventually start to experiment with, I’m going to encourage them to do so safely.
Which means things like… always ‘buddying up’ with a trusted friend when you drink. Not drinking in unsafe, unfamiliar places, like at parties of people you barely know. And crucially, not drinking yourself into oblivion.
There are bad drivers on the road. To avoid the risk of being killed by one of them, I will teach my kids to wear seatbelts and to look both ways before crossing the road.
There are also bad people out there. To avoid the risk of being killed by one of them, I will teach my kids to be vigilant and safe.
I can remember after Jill Meagher was brutally murdered, discussions such as these were met with accusations of “victim shaming”. But in my view, having open discussions about these types of risks it’s not about shaming the victim or implying they are at fault.
It’s about learning from these tragedies, to help other women and young girls avoid the same terrible fate.