To Speak Up or Not to Speak Up? It Shouldn’t Be a Question.
“Decision expected today in trial of 3 Toronto police officers for sexual assault.” Here we go again. It seems every day there are stories of sexual and ethical misconduct by people in positions of authority. There is even scandal where you would not expect it – young women in the GTA are trafficked into the sex trade by schoolmates, ski coaches abuse players, and police officers assault those they are supposed to protect.
But, unfortunately, it doesn’t stop there. The bad behaviour which is modelled by people in the public eye and in positions of authority has a way of trickling down to affect the average person. Context’s Molly Thomas spoke with a group of ordinary women in downtown Toronto earlier this year who told stories of harassment and assault they experienced going about their every day lives.
Unfortunately, their stories were not unique. Literally every woman I know has experienced some form of harassment, assault, or rape.
Thankfully, at least in Canada, there does seem to be some changing attitudes about bad behaviour. Don Meredith’s bad behaviour will not go away simply because he resigned, but the probe into his misconduct will continue. The Canadian government is adding new provisions to the Criminal Code around sexual assault which will, hopefully, clarify issues of consent in law.
We can’t leave it all to legislators, politicians, and judges, we need everyday people to speak out about bad behaviour. We need women and men to say that this culture of harassment will not be tolerated any more. We need parents to model good behaviour for their children and bosses to model good behaviour to their employees.
For Christians, we are called to be leaders, modellers, and advocates of good behaviour by God, even though we are imperfect and fail. God calls us to speak up when we see bad behaviour and help victims. As Jesus said, “Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of … these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me,” (Matt. 25:40).