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Is Bullying a Gateway Act to Larger Crimes?

Bullying victim Audrie PottsToday we are going to look at a story that ends horribly for one teenage girl and her family, how underage drinking played a part in the event and how the term and act of "bullying" can be a gateway act to larger crimes.

As reported on multiple news outlets, 15-year-old Aurdrie Potts was sexually assaulted while passed out at a party by three boys that she knew, and then bullied about the assault after photos taken of her during and after the assault were circulated online.

Bravely, Audrie herself tried to contact her attackers and confront them but it was to no avail. She messaged one friend that "I have a reputation for one night that I don't even remember and the whole school knows". Weeks after the assault, Audrie called her Mom and asked her to come pick her up from school because she "couldn't take it anymore", but wouldn't tell her Mom what was wrong.

Audrie went home and hanged herself. She lived for two more days on life support until she passed away.

The three boys who participated in the assault did so after Audrie passed out from too much drinking. They removed her shorts, drew their names on her body and, ""digitally penetrated her, and/or penetrated her with a foreign object, and/or sexually abused her" 

The boys are charged with multiple counts of sexual battery, dissemination of child pornography and possession of child pornography. The parents of Audrie Potts not only want the boys to be charged as adults, but they are civilly suing the boys' parents as well as the parents who hosted the party where Audrie was sexually assaulted.

To say that this is an upsetting story is the understatement of the year. Look at the ramifications and lessons in this story…

Underage drinking – Let me be the first one to say I am the "Pot calling the Kettle black" in this department. I started drinking very young in life and like many people who drink, I have hilarious stories from all through life – especially high school – that involved drinking. The truth is I am damn lucky to be alive and fortunate that I never hurt myself or someone else while we were raising hell as teenagers and drinking. Times are different now; as a father to a daughter and with a son on the way, I will be teaching and setting a much different example for them regarding this subject.

From Prank to Prison – I have no idea what was going through these boys' minds. Maybe they didn't understand the severity of what they were doing. Maybe they didn't know the definition of sexual battery, sexual assault, what it means to take nude photos of under age girls or boys and show them – I have no idea. What I do know is that it seems that what they THOUGHT was a "prank" or "practical joke" may likely end up with prison, or registered as sex offenders for the rest of their lives. Once you are registered as a sex offender, your life as you know it is over, and you start on a path that you have no idea how rough it is to live with.

Legal Liability for Parents – one of the most influential forces in my life was my best friend's Mom, who we called Swamp Lily. She was from Alabama and still is one of the most down-to-earth, no-nonsense, tough, caring women on the planet, who raised three boys practically alone, along with acting as a parent to myself and several others growing up.

She and her husband Tommy were the ones who held all the parties at their house. Right or wrong, back in those days, our parents would rather have us partying and drinking at home and stay overnight then running around town, driving and getting into who-knows-how-much trouble. There were many, many parties at their house where there would be scores of teens all drinking and carousing until all hours of the night. The rules were you had to drop your keys when you came in the door and you didn't get them back until the next day. They kept an eye on us and let us do our thing.

That was back then. Now, that sort of thing is out of the question. Look at the legal liability the family who hosted the party is now under. Whether or not there are grounds for a lawsuit I do not know; I am not an attorney. What I do know is that this family is now going to have to spend thousands and thousands of dollars to DEFEND themselves in the lawsuit, not to mention time away from work, plus the emotional toll that goes along with it.

A tragic story for all parties involved. Times are different now. Technology is different now. The legal environment is different now. We must be sharper and do an outstanding job of preparing ourselves and teaching our kids – especially our daughters – about these sort of topics so that they can (hopefully) make good decisions if they are ever in a situation that could go south on them quickly if they make the wrong choices.

Let's hope we are up to the challenge.

Stay strong,


P.S. – Prayers and condolences to the people and families who lost loved ones or were injured in yesterday's terror bombings in Boston. Horrible, horrible story. Let's hope the good ole U.S. of A. finds out who did it and "puts it to them" as we used to say back home…

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