When my oldest son was a toddler, I was called out by the police department in Wichita Falls to provide victim’s assistance and some spiritual presence to a woman that had been brutally raped by a group of men in an abandoned house. It was one of those call-outs that is still imprinted on my mind 25 years later. I couldn’t fathom that someone could a harm a woman in such a way. It remains beyond my comprehension. I am thankful to say that my boys think in a similar manner.
I raised three sons. They are all adults now. In fact, I can now say with confidence that they are now responsible adults. They have jobs and go to school. The youngest will turn 20 in a matter of weeks. My youngest is about the same age as the 20 year old former Stanford student that was recently convicted of raping a young woman. Key word is convicted. He was determined to be guilty beyond reasonable doubt of not one, but three felonies.
As a father of three sons, this case caused me to sit up and think…Would any of my boys be capable of committing such particularly heinous offenses? My sons are not angels by any stretch of the imagination. They are imperfect. And they were raised by an even more imperfect father. But in reference to the question I posed to myself, it did not take long to formulate an answer. None of my sons would ever purposely assault a woman. I am thankful I can say that with confidence.
I hate to state that publicly, because it sounds boastful. There is a little ring of self-righteousness. That is not my intent. I am well aware that my sons are fully capable of doing foolish things, but the criminal offenses of the 20 year old college student taught me something very important.
Fathers of boys must get a few things right. Boys must be taught to respect women. Apparently the perpetrator’s father has no concept of respect. He has confused forcible rape with “20 minutes of action.” We shouldn’t be surprised by the actions of his son. The father is guilty too. He appears he is guilty of failing to teach his son about respect.
Fathers of boys must instill a desire in their sons to protect the vulnerable. The two graduate students that came to the rescue of the rape victim in this case learned somewhere along the way that protecting the vulnerable is a high priority. I thought about my own sons in this regard. Would they come to a woman’s rescue in similar circumstances? It didn’t take long to answer that question.
Fathers of boys must encourage their sons to take responsibility for their actions. My oldest son threw a rock at a fellow student in Kindergarten and hit him in the head. He was reluctant to take responsibility. He cited David using a rock to deal with Goliath. And he referenced police officers protecting themselves from aggressors. But he will tell you today that he was still held responsible for his actions.
Fathers must prepare their sons for a lifetime of action. They may need to step into action at anytime to help someone who is in desperate need. Brock Turner's father failed to prepare his son for the kind of action that real men engage in. As Father's Day approaches, may this case serve as a solemn reminder of getting the basics right.
There are still nights I lay awake brooding over the mistakes I made as a father. There were plenty. But I am grateful to say today that I raised three respectful young men, who would protect a helpless woman from an aggressor in a heartbeat. I need to remember that on the sleepless nights when my fatherly imperfections feel especially overwhelming.