Opinion: Ask the right question about gang rape

By Ron Avi Astor
CNN News
Editor’s note: Ron Avi Astor, Ph.D., is a professor in the Schools of Social Work and Education at the University of Southern California and is the author of “School Violence in Context,” published by Oxford University Press.

(CNN) — The alleged gang rape of a 15-year-old girl on the campus of Richmond High School in Northern California while 10 or more witnesses, most of them students, looked on has sparked familiar questions: “Why are our kids so messed up?” “Why didn’t these students try to stop the crime?” “What’s happening in our schools?”

These are fair questions, and commentators in the media have provided familiar answers. The purported rape is another sad example of today’s self-absorbed and uncaring youth. It was the media’s glorification of violence that caused it. The horrific act shows how sociopathic brains develop. But it seems as if the majority of commentators have settled on the idea that the Richmond students did nothing because of the “bystander effect”: The more people involved in a criminal incident, the less likely any one of them will intervene to do something about it.

Unfortunately, this “What’s wrong with our children?” approach leads to a dead end, because it results in a sweeping moral condemnation of the schools, families and students in this community. These perpetrators committed a heinous act that should be widely condemned. But a discussion that focuses exclusively on the immorality of these deviant young men does not provide solutions that prevent gang rape from happening. Full story.


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