The worst things I cover are teen sexual assault and Black Lives Matter protests. I love the cause, just hate that it needs to exist. It’s at these events, I remember exactly what it means to not just be helpless, but oppressed. All that terrible comes rushing back in. And it’s at that point, I know exactly why I am there.
It’s taken me a few passes at this and I am not sure how long it’s gonna be but here goes.
On Saturday, January 30th, 2021 at approximately 12:00 PM, more than a hundred teens and a hand full of supportive adults assembled at Bainbridge High School as a group of peaceful activists to speak out on the continued teen sexual assault within our community. The group gave brief comments at the High School start point and then began their march down Madison Avenue, passed City Hall and on to the Bainbridge Island Police Department.
The crowd was bigger than expected. Some of the organizers had to peel off to get back to their “regular life” but a few stuck around and it gave the hundred plus folks a chance to hear the testimony of a few brave young women.
The survivors are 13, 14, 15 and 16 years old. Their mentors, the humans they finally feel comfortable telling… 17, 18, 19… All survivors. All on Bainbridge. All victims of sexual assault perpetrated by members of our community.
The message was clear, “WE WILL NOT BE SILENT ANYMORE!”
They outted people. Names were said. Details of alleged crimes were spoken about. No one seemed particularly surprised. In fact, most seemed to know what the young women were talking about already. They accused other teens in the Bainbridge Island community of unwanted touching, verbal assault, stalking, choking, intimidation and yes, forceable rape.
This is the 4th or 5th meetup of local Bainbridge Island teens within the last 12 months to bring attention to the issue of Teen Sexual Assault. These meetups, marches and protests have been used to bring the Bainbridge Island School District, Bainbridge Island City Hall, Bainbridge Island Police Department and any other stakeholder group, into accountability. Meaning, if you have a say in this and you haven't done anything to improve it, you are partially responsible for these outcomes.
Some traction and forward movement has been made but not enough. In a recent January 2021 Bainbridge Island School District Meeting, the current administration admitted to a policy that had not been looked at in 32 years. They said that the policy didn’t even exist anymore in the original place they got it from.
Too often adults talk about the slow wheels of the process and bureaucracy, but the kids are getting raped.
Let me say that again for anyone that did not understand. While adults talk about policy, procedure, protecting predators and budgets, young women and men are being raped in our schools, homes and every other place possible.
It’s the non stop work of folks like Lelaina Hughes of Let’s Talk: Women Against Sexual Assault, that has been instrumental in the continued success of the movement. She sat for an interview after the latest protest/march and spoke to her group, it’s success in outreach and future plans.
You can see the interview in its entirety here.
Please. Stay. Woke.