Hold teens accountable

The event of accusation happened 36 years ago. Ronald Reagan was president and the Supreme Court only had one female associate justice: Sandra Day O’ Connor.

There was a party where 15-year-old Christine Blasey Ford (then Christine Blasey) alleged that a then 17-year-old Brett Kavanaugh pinned her down, covered her mouth so that she was unable to scream, tore her clothes off and groped her. Ford says she does not remember all the details; Kavanaugh says it did not happen at all.

Now Kavanaugh, a Supreme Court nominee, and Ford, a research psychologist, have both testified on Capitol Hill about an alleged incident that happened nearly four decades ago.

I am not here to play judge, jury or execution to an incident that happened 16 years before I was born. Only a few people, possibly only Ford and Kavanaugh, know what happened that night. As this story has taken over every newspaper, news channel and social media site, it’s made me wonder if something that a 17-year-old teenager did in the past should matter now.

Our country is very divided on this issue, as it is on almost every issue these days.

Those defending Kavanaugh argue that being a teenager at the time and that teenagers do stupid things are valid excuses. I agree teenagers do stupid things; I was a teenager until six months ago, and at 20 years of age I still do stupid things like skipping class. I think we can all agree that from time to time we have all done and still do stupid things.  As a society, we should not hold teenagers to the same standards as adults – that is more than fair.

However, we should not equate teenagers doing stupid things to teenagers groping women. Yes, teenagers will be teenagers, but teenagers should not be rapists. The argument that a 17-year-old is too young to understand that sexual assault is wrong is sick and disgusting.

Seventeen is old enough to understand that forcefully throwing a woman on a bed and groping her is wrong, and if you don’t understand why, then you are a part of the problem.

Giving Kavanaugh a pass because he was 17 is wrong.  If that were to happen, America will also give passes to millions of incidents involving teens. If Kavanaugh is confirmed to the highest court in the land, it will be a sad day for women who have been in Ford’s shoes before.

I’m not the same person I was when I was 17, and I doubt Kavanaugh is the same person he was at 17. This is not a discussion of whether Kavanaugh should be in jail; this discussion is whether or not he should sit on the Supreme Court. Congress should reject Kavanaugh and send a message to teenagers that there is no excuse for sexual assault. You cannot hide behind your age and use that as an excuse to assault women.

And while it is also true that this is an alleged incident that has not been proven true or false, let this serve as a lesson to boys, and girls, everywhere that sexual assault as a teenager is still a big deal no matter how long ago the alleged incident happened.

We as a society have to do better for our youth. We have to be willing to have tough conversations about consent, assault and making our country a place where everyone feels safe.

We have to strive to do better, to educate young men and women that yes, teens will be teens, but teens will be held accountable for their actions.