Most of Tarpon has heard about the recent arrest and rape allegation in Tarpon Springs concerning a 15-year-old high school girl and a 17-year-old high school student named Jared Alissandratos.
This story has torn Tarpon Springs High School in two, some students supporting the popular cross retriever, while others refusing to excuse the crime.
Bullying, intimidation and ignorance has swept through social media, with #freejared trending on Twitter and lewd posts calling the victim a “slut,” among other more disgusting things. This issue is not anything new, though, and goes far beyond this case. Rape culture has now been shown to be here in Tarpon Springs as well, and it is up to students, teachers and parents to address it.
Rape culture is defined as a culture where rape and sexual violence are the norm and where attitudes and norms excuse, tolerate or even condone rape. It looks at how society objectifies women, and makes them out to be objects to be taken advantage of. If you don't believe this is an issue, even here in Tarpon Springs look no further than Twitter and read the posts under #freejared.
“#freejared your innocent bro, everyone knows it, she cant lie forever”
“You just f****d up your life and his, good job ��. #freejared”
“Teen raped at tarpon springs house party" that's f*****g b******t. I dont know him but #freejared"
"Don't know who he is, but my sister goes to school with him. I know he didn't do it #freejared”
“F**k Da police #freejared”
"just face it... You're a slut #freejared!!!!”
This is not OK, Tarpon Springs. Parents and teachers, these are your kids posting this. I am the first to say innocent until proven guilty, but what we see here on these posts are excuses because he is popular, and they are blaming the victim. Most of these students probably do not know the circumstances of the case, or have even heard of rape culture, but they are exemplifying it to the tee.
This 15-year-old student will never be able to go back to Tarpon Springs High School, or ever forget about this experience.
These teenagers have, unfortunately, no conception about the sexual assault problem we face here in the United States, thanks mainly to the media who continue to excuse famous stars for allegations against them. Look at today's music, objectifying women, calling them “hoes, sluts and whores.” Your kids are listening to and learning from this music, and unfortunately in some instances it goes beyond just the listening.
Many of the posts I have read from students excuse Jared Alissandratos because the victim was highly intoxicated and she “wanted it.” This 15-year-old girl, while unwise to drink at all, had no ability to consent, and Mr. Alissandratos took advantage of that situation. The pink elephant in the room is why they were drinking at all at the Alissandratos home, and where were the parents?
These students are still kids, and should not have easy access to alcohol or especially access to a home to throw a party in. Until parents take responsibility for their own children and their actions, these cases will continue to occur.
Rape culture has been exposed to many more people in the area due to this case, and the backlash against the victim is horrible and saddening. As I said earlier, these are your kids, Tarpon Springs, and something must be done to educate them. Parents must take responsibility, and schools must also share the responsibility to educate their students about sexual violence.
What really concerns me is the consequence of this bullying and ignorance... All over the country, teen suicide has gone up because of the Internet age. Teen girls either being sexually assaulted, or having their private pictures exposed dive deep into depression. This is the unintended consequence of these kids' actions. But we can prevent that, and prevent the issue from arising at all if we actually try to #endrapeculture.