This past month’s story involving six students from an all boys high school assaulting two fellow classmates, has been the talk of the town on social media. St. Michael’s College School is one of the most prestigious high schools in all of Canada. If you are not to up to date with this news story, here is a recap:
Was the bullying inspired by 13 Reasons Why?
The details are certainly disturbing. While hazing and bullying are nothing new to adolescents, could it have been inspired from programming seen online?
Netflix’s controversial show 13 Reasons Why, takes a look at teenage pressure such as sexual, alcohol and drug abuse. It is quite possible that what happened at St. Mike’s could have been inspired from the hazing that character Tyler Down endured on the show:
What to do now?
It’s a terrible thing to see our youth emulate what they see on their devices. I think bullying in general is never going to go away and with a medium like social media, we can react fast and raise attention. In this case, the videos were briefly circulating on Instagram and it was a matter of time before the authorities got involved.
As for the school turning a blind eye originally, shame on them. It took local news outlets to expose them for not paying attention to the school culture that goes within their hallways. What they thought that was happening was just a small level of teasing, has now turned into a sexual assault case, with six students aged 15-17 being expelled for good.
In the wake of this past fall’s blockbuster story about movie executive Harvey Weinstein’s sexual assault/harassment history, a delicate issue has been given a large spotlight. It is a sensitive subject where recounting and expressing horrendous firsthand experiences are an extremely painful memory. This day in age in social media where we are looking to post the best angle of our selves, the best destination we’ve traveled to or what our favourite foods are, all took a back seat when this became a major news story. Here are three things we have learned from all of this.
Social media helped create an open dialogue on sexual assault
What was once a taboo subject to talk about it, was now put on an international scope with millions of people chiming in on this topic. The October 5th article written by the New York Post and the October 10th investigation piece by the New Yorker helped bring attention to one individual but in essence, triggered a much larger effect. It helped establish communication among society through multiple social media platforms. A subject matter as delicate as this where people were afraid to come forward, opened a gateway for those to feel safe and not embarrassed to share their experiences. As of this writing, 34 men from various public industries have seen their careers affected, majority by termination.
Some people who might have not use the micro blogging site anymore like they used to, as other social media apps occupy their interests. But in this case, the subject matter of sexual assault/harassment was most detailed in 140 characters at the time. It was the perfect platform for other users to read detailed accounts of others while a community engaged and exchanged support for one another. Actress Alyssa Milano can be credited for her October 15thtweet that opened up the floodgates for millions to interact and discuss this subject matter. For that entire week, 96.9% of the #MeToo hashtag trend came from Twitter. With the recent increase to 280 characters, Twitter has demonstrated that their platform still has value and people still use the platform to share whatever is on their mind.
Sexual assault/harassment is never acceptable
We have seen a large group of brave women, no longer in silence recount and continue to share their horrific stories. It takes a lot of courage for them to find the inner strength and share private details that are emotionally scarring. In addition, even a few men have stepped up and shared their stories that have affected them for years. It is a painful reminder that under no circumstance, should a woman’s safety, well being and emotional state ever be violated in or out of the workplace. Regardless if you are a famous public figure, an entertainer, athlete, politician or even a regular Joe Schmo, everyone should be treated equally with respect.
Thanks to social media, the subject matter of sexual assault/harassment was bright to light on a large scale in 2017. How this news story broke out and caught steam among the masses could greatly be attributed to social media. Was it a slow news week? Or was is just about time for this topic to no longer be considered taboo and given some serious thought? Regardless, what came out of this was an overdue discussion on this sensitive issue. People’s voices were heard, people’s personal guilt came forward and public shaming became more prevalent. Ultimately, this could be just the beginning of other potential issues in the world that could spark international interest, stay tuned.