From Outrage to Action: Men Can Stop Rape's Response to Maryville

The setup of the Maryville, MO case is all too familiar: An act of sexual violence caught on camera and passed around a school; a small town willing to protect its young men at the expense of its girls; and a nation outraged that things like this still happen. By now, we’ve got the script for responding to these types of events down perfectly: sexual violence happens across America in towns big and small, even if we don’t hear about it; the root causes of sexual violence lie in unhealthy notions of masculinity; we must teach our boys healthy masculinity and the power of bystander intervention if we are to end sexual violence; and we must prioritize responding to and preventing violence against women at all times, not just when a tragedy hits the news cycle. Many of us will demand justice for 14-year-old Daisy and her unnamed 13-year-old friend, some action may or may not take place against the perpetrators or the town that protected them, and we will shift our outrage to the next tragedy.

The overriding themes of this case will be broken down by many intelligent people and organizations in this field in the next few days. As usual, we see victim blaming, a “boys will be boys” attitude, and reputation being prioritized over the health and safety of girls. What I hope to do today, though, is give concrete steps to prevent these types of tragedies and turn outrage into real change. From your family’s living room to the halls of our national, state, and local governments, there are things we can do every day to prevent the next Maryville or Steubenville.

  • Be a role model for boys and young men. Too often, we let high profile men in popular culture tell our boys how to be men. We can all teach boys that real strength isn’t about power and control, but about standing up for what’s right and building better communities.
  • Learn and teach bystander intervention skills. Research tells us that the bystanders in Steubenville and Maryville knew what was happening was wrong but didn’t know how to stop it. Boys and men are especially reticent to intervene in situations involving violence against women. Teach all young people to trust their guts and speak up in a safe manner.
  • Incorporate age-appropriate education about healthy masculinity into school curriculums. Our boys are missing crucial lessons on social-emotional intelligence, healthy relationships, and healthy sexuality. All boys can benefit from this education in their emotional and intellectual lives, and our communities especially benefit from boys and young men who can peaceably resolve conflicts and form healthy platonic and romantic relationships.

These are a few of the lessons we’ve learned from working with boys and young men in the last 16 years. There’s more we can do to stand up for Daisy and the countless other unnamed girls and women affected everyday by sexual violence than clicking “Share” or “Retweet.” Take today to learn more about how you can get involved in responding to and preventing sexual violence. When the next Maryville happens, you’ll be moved to continue talking about sexual violence, to keep the health and safety of young people prioritized, and to keep working toward the day when we can really be outraged by a single incident of sexual violence because it is so rare.

Jared_bioJared Watkins is the Development Coordinator at Men Can Stop Rape. He can be reached at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it or 202-534-1835.