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"Good Judgement And Knowledge" Indeed
How Is Two Years' Probation Fair?
In looking up the motto for St. Michael's College School in Toronto, Ontario, Canada, I've come to discover that it's "Doce Me Bonitatem et Disciplinam et Scientiam" - "teach me good judgment and knowledge." Why would I look this up, you might ask?
St. Michael's College School is once again under the microscope as the trial of some young men who were responsible for sexually assaulting two victims in two separate incidents there continues. The two victims were reportedly assaulted with a broom handle in a locker room while the incident was recorded by another teen. Three of the perpetrators pleaded guilty to sexual assault with a weapon and assault with a weapon for their roles in the incidents and have been sentenced to two years of probation. The teen who filmed the incident and then distributed it within the school and beyond pleaded guilty to making child pornography. Another involved in one of the incidents pleaded guilty and received two years' probation as well.
Here's the thing. First of all, what drives kids to do this to other kids? One of the victims, per Global News, said that he was warned not to "snitch" in the immediate aftermath of the incident. That would indicate to me that this individual knew what he did was wrong and would further compound the victim's trauma should the victim indeed tell someone. Also, there are few crimes that are more about exhibiting power over a victim than sexual assault, and while that's difficult for female victims to speak about much less recover from, imagine if you're a teen boy.
Boys still get told a fair bit that they need to "man up" and are subject to inferences that if they do not demonstrate emotional restraint or are of a slighter build than their contemporaries, they are not a "real man." So, imagine the victims in this situation. They've been sexually assaulted with a weapon - a broom handle was reportedly used in both instances - while being physically restrained while their assaulters probably taunted them and recorded the attack. Never mind the physical pain associated with this - these male victims will no doubt require extensive therapy in the years to come just to be able to live with the trauma they've experienced. Every relationship they'll have in the future will be somehow impacted by what happened to them at St. Michael's College School, and unless these victims have appropriate support at home and with medical professionals trained to help people through trauma such as this, they will find no relief from what they went through. Going through a trial is probably not helping their recovery, either; while they will possibly feel some relief in confronting their assaulters in a court of law, reliving those memories will cause them to be like a raw wound all over again.
The perpetrators? Some have 30 hours of community service and two years' probation. They can walk away from this as though it was nothing more than a blip on their radar.
This is likely not a popular opinion, but while I do understand that, on occasion, fights will break out at school - I teach high school and have certainly heard of these things happening - such a blatant act of disregard for the victims' dignity or humanity perpetrated by these individuals indicates to me a level of depravity that should not be dismissed by a statement leading with "I regret."
A man or a boy having dealt with sexual assault, I believe, will need greater work on their recovery from the trauma in many respects than a woman in some ways. There are still stereotypical views of men that seem to indicate they should somehow "know better" or do something to prevent something like sexual assault from occurring to them, in much the same way that a woman might be asked what they might have been wearing or how they were behaving if they were sexually assaulted.
While I was not the judge in this case, and I am not 100 percent sure what happened beyond what was reported in the news about the St. Michael's sexual assault cases, the punishment given to the perpetrators in these cases does not fit the crime. These victims will have a lifetime of recovery from this and the perpetrators should have had penalties that reflected that, remorse or no.
This isn't kids being kids.
This is, once again, the justice system being unfair to the victims of sexual assault.