Saturday, March 14, 2009

Dating Violence On Oprah

I finally got around to watching the show that Oprah did with Tyra Banks on dating violence Thursday.  Oprah opened the show by saying, "1 in 3 high school students has been, or is in, an abusive relationship.  Isn't that shocking?"  I know it shocks me, even though I know that these numbers are most likely directly linked the the bullying statistics: 1 in 4 children are bullied every day on our elementary, middle school, and high school campuses.

There was a lot of fascinating information presented and I have to say that I was very pleased that Oprah did put the focus on teens and dating violence.  I was worried that the ages of Rihanna (21) and Chris Brown (19 or 20?) would shift the focus to older children and not address the serious violence faced by our teens.

I felt some relief in hearing that most of the teens asked said that they were disappointed that Rihanna went back to the abusive relationship.  Most of them felt that is was a bad decision. Many said that they lost respect for both artists.  One young woman, however, said that Rihanna probably deserved it.  This caught my attention.  Oprah was so surprised by the teenager's comment, that she brought her into the studio to speak with her personally.

When asked why she felt this way, the young girl said that she heard that Rihanna hit Chris first and that he was probably just reacting to that.  Tyra, who was candid about her abusive relationship, spoke up and pointed out to the young teen that based on the pictures, clearly excessive force was used and that he had no right to use excessive force.  If he was reacting in self-defense, at some point he went on the attack.  After a while the girl had to agree.

I was disappointed that both Tyra and Oprah, most likely due to their personal relationships with Chris Brown or having know him personally, expressed numerous times how they felt badly for Chris.  This show of sympathy to an attacker is ill-placed in my opinion and sends the wrong message to children involved in abusive relationships.  I wonder if  Chris Brown had been a regular Joe, would they still feel such sympathy toward him.  I think they, like many, are caught up in the celebrity bad boy mentality that allows such crimes to go unpunished or minimized and therefore accepted by mainstream society.

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