Wendyl Nissen: The truth about the Facebook generation

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Roast Busters members Joseph Parker (left) and Beraiah Hales boasted online of their actions.
Roast Busters members Joseph Parker (left) and Beraiah Hales boasted online of their actions.

I'm not sure what concerns me more. The fact that when the Roast Busters story hit the news my 15-year-old daughter took one look at the television and said "Oh yeah, those guys. Everyone's seen their page."

Or the slow and dreadful realisation that despite a number of young girls being raped while stupefied, so few of them felt able to lay a complaint. And one who did, at the age of 13, a mere child, was, according to her and her parents, treated very badly by our police.

The Roast Busters Facebook page should have been closed down two years ago when the police were first notified, but they kept it open for evidence. Yet they don't have any evidence to prosecute. Meanwhile, my daughter saw that page, as did many others.

"Should we be worried?" asked my husband after our daughter left the room to get back on Facebook.

Like most parents, we have accepted that our daughter would rather be on Facebook than watching family-friendly TV with her parents as we did in our teenage years.

But as Facebook users ourselves, we are all too aware that content which might have shocked us at the age of 15 is just another screenshot in the vast array of bite-sized grabs of anything ranging from cute animal videos to a group of local boys raping girls and bragging about it.

Should we be worried? I think so. Should we talk to our daughter about stuff she needs to tell us about? We already have.

Like most mothers whose children live in the region where these boys were roaming, I have been hoping like hell my daughter doesn't come into the room, sit down and tell me she was one of the victims. She hasn't, but she knows someone who has.

And I know that if my daughter had been raped by these boys, I wouldn't want her to lay a complaint.

I'm all for those boys facing justice for what they have done but not at the expense of my daughter's mental health.

Because, I believe there is a culture in our police force that doubts women, as they did the 13-year-old girl.

I'm not going to let a police officer ask my daughter how she was dressed, how much she drank that night and demand that she relive a rape using dolls.

I would not want my daughter to be played out in the media for all they could take from her. I work in the media, I know how much fun they would have with her Facebook page, making the most of every picture she has posted, choosing the most salacious.

She would then have to face her friends and teachers at school, as she studied for her exams while waiting for the trial.

And then she would be in court, my beautiful daughter, having a defence lawyer doing his or her best to label her as a slut.

Not that they would have needed to bother. We have Willy and JT on Radio Live for that.

Why were these young girls out drinking and partying? Because they are teenagers and they have just as much right to that experience as boys.

We are all equal. Well we are supposed to be.

But what has played out in this past week is the clear message that in this country if you are a woman and you are raped, you were asking for it. If you are a male who wears whatever you like, drinks whatever you like and rapes a girl who is drunk and out of it, you are just sowing your wild oats.

Here's the thing. Don't rape. Rape is rape, no matter which way you dress it up. No woman asks to be raped, no woman goes out for a night on the town thinking rape may be at the end of it.

But it appears that as a nation we are raising boys who think that having sex with an unwilling partner is okay. And paying policeman to take young terrified girls into interview rooms and not believe them.

I've taught all my daughters how to kick a man where it hurts and how to use words to put them in their place.

Must I now teach my 15-year-old not to trust every boy she meets? And not to trust every policeman who is supposed to be protecting her? It seems so.

Debate on this article is now closed.

- NZ Herald

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