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Ihlenfeld grabs opportunity Steubenville and Ohio missed
August 16, 2013 - Paul Giannamore
A couple months ago (June 24 to be exact) I took a stand that I am simply through after a lifetime spent defending Steubenville against slings and arrows because its unwillingness to change has hit a new low in relation to the rape case that drew the worst kind of attention. (See “To shut up Serena and Sharapova we must change”, http://bit.ly/12dLHJY)
I said that months were wasted in an opportunity for Steubenville to go from symbol of awful to become a leader in the discussion of teens and their use of social media to document every facet of their lives and disseminate them via texts to friends and then globally via Facebook and Twitter and whatever the social app of the moment might be.
To reinforce that, I think parents cannot control this one, no matter how hard they try. We cannot be over our kids shoulder every moment, and they dwell much of the time in a virtual world with other kids and no adults supervising them. It’s “Lord of the Fllies” in there. It’s a matter of, like much of life, giving them the tools, reinforcing messages and then praying to the Lord Almighty that something we taught them stuck.
At least one reader (see the posts below that June 24 column), thought my column was some kind of cop-out on adults involved and that I was some kind of spineless type. I offer no cop-out to adults today, and I didn’t then. I state here, unequivocally, that I would love to know who bought the booze that fueled the party, at the very least.
No less a citizen of the Ohio Valley than the U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of West Virginia has taken the steps I had advocated and had hoped to see from somebody in Steubenville, or Ohio, at least.
Because while Ohio Attorney General Mike Dewine and a special grand jury continue to meet from time to time to go over evidence, Mr. William J. Ihlenfeld II has taken the steps I so wished had happened here.
He has made a presentation, at least twice during the past week, to athletes at Northern Panhandle high schools, and says he intends to go on having conversations and presentations for athletes and cheerleaders. That is not just football players because this is not just a football problem.
That’s in West Virginia, not Ohio, where apparently locals have the energy to berate anyone and everyone who has ever written a word about this case, but don’t bother to notice the community has done nothing to change except get further entrenched.
Ihlenfeld is taking the time to point out that kids not only have the power to access the world in the palm of their hands but also can change the direction of their lives forever in the fraction of an instant it takes to push the “send” button. "A poor choice today is much different than a poor choice 20 years ago," he said.
The cynical among you will say that Ihlenfeld is an opportunist using the Steubenville case as a stepping stone to higher offices.
I say at least he has stepped out there to get the discussion going, to make kids aware of the dangers of the combinations of the bad decisions fueled by booze and drugs being recorded and disseminated for posterity in the electronic world in which people keep at least one foot most of the time. Sure, more needs to be done. Parents need some kind of education and awareness has got to be raised.
This is a good start, and we ought to commend him. And see if he’d be willing to make a few presentations in Ohio.
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