Every Friday my syndicated column appears in several newspapers across North America. Here’s this week’s:

I was perusing the news a while back and two stories on the same day struck me. In one, the website YouTube was being criticized for lax rules when it came to uploading violent content, after a video of a 25-year-old young mother being gang-raped was posted.

The crime sounds hideous, and indeed it was. But as I read the background, I became even more depressed. In this particular case, the 25-year-old had invited several neighbourhood teenagers into her apartment, some as young as 14, and ended up serving them champagne. The teens spiked her drink, and after she passed out, these girls invited the boys to assault her.

No one deserves that, and apparently the woman’s two children witnessed the attack. This is horrifying in and of itself, and I do hope the perpetrators, both the boys and the girls who set it up, receive harsh punishment, though I rather doubt that will happen given their tender ages.

Nevertheless, I still have to ask: why was she serving 14-year-old kids champagne? Please understand, I am not saying that she deserved to be raped; but one can act stupidly, and there are consequences to acting stupidly. Personally, I think we should avoid stupidity as much as possible.

The second story bore a remarkable similarity. In this California case, four teenage boys, aged between 15 and 17, invited two teenage girls, aged 14 and 15, that they had met on the street home for a drink. The girls acquiesced, got drunk, and were then sexually assaulted.

Again, they did not deserve that, and I do hope that the perpetrators face justice. But why in the world were two teenage girls going into a stranger’s home to drink?

We may want to live in a world where we can do anything we want to without facing consequences, but life’s not like that. And when we act stupidly, or take stupid risks, harm can come to us. So let’s stop being so stupid.

A number of women I know remember waking up after a party to find their clothes disheveled with no recollection of what happened. I can imagine how traumatic that would be. But let’s face it: going to a party where there is lots of drinking is not necessarily a safe thing to do, even if you know the people who are there. Likewise, you may think a guy is great, but going to his room or his apartment alone before you know him that well isn’t brilliant either. Warning bells should go off in your head. If they’re not, there’s something wrong.

We constantly educate boys that “no means no”, and that date rape is wrong, and all of that is well and good. But when are girls and women going to wise up to the fact that alcohol and safety don’t mix all that well?

Across the country right now many teens are away from home for the first time, enjoying the freedom college or university bring. Parents may have dreams of academic pursuits, but in truth the first pursuits on university campuses are often far more base and more dangerous. Part of maturity, though, is recognizing danger and acting responsibly so as to minimize risk. The immature of any age discount risk. The mature are on the lookout for it.

Success in life, then, must ultimately include internalizing some basic facts. You reap what you sow, and you shouldn’t let your guard down. These aren’t fun rules, and they’re not widely taught anymore in this politically correct world. But we should teach them—not to get men off the hook, but simply to protect women’s safety.

Tragically, sometimes things happen even when we are taking every precaution. There are never guarantees. But we certainly can lower the risk that we’ll be victims of violence. Mature people understand that. Maybe it’s time, then, for all of us to grow up.

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