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OP-ED: How do we protect our children?

Trigger Warning (for those parties sensitive to assault)

Long Island sports coach Sean Johnsen had inappropriate contact with a 16-year-old girl on August 17 and 21, according to Nassau County Police. He was charged with two counts of third-degree rape, two counts of the third-degree criminal sex act, and endangering the welfare of a child. Johnsen is set to be arraigned November 6th in Mineola.

Bluntly speaking, Johnsen is a 35-year-old man that raped a young girl of 16-years-old. There’s the major question of what prompts people to do such a thing and we have to note that rape is a mostly man’s problem.  

According to a 2010 National Intimate Partner and Sexual Violence Survey, 90 percent of perpetrators of sexual violence against women are men. Moreover, when men are victims of sexual assault (an estimated one in 71 men, and one in six boys), 93 percent reported their abuser was a man. Men are also victims of rape as well, but the evidence also shows that men perpetrate 78 percent of reported assaults.

We can ask, “what was she wearing?” or “why didn’t she report it sooner?” However, we should be wondering about what education are we providing to help men and women respect each other intimately. A 2004 Department of Justice study found that only 8 percent of rape education and prevention programs are designed specifically for men.

However, women aren’t excused from that fact that they can be predators and sexually groom victims as well. More recently a TikTok influencer, Zoe LaVerne is 19 years-old and was caught kissing a 13-year old fan. LaVerne apologized on a TikTok live and said, “We ended up catching feelings for one another and friends do that, they catch feelings for one another.” 

The reality of it all is that an adult, like her, should have no business finding a romantic, intimate relationship with a minor. It is wrong, there is no consent because minors are, in fact, children.

We need to teach our children the proper education into what consent means, what it means to be a groomer or predator, and how to be safe from red flags in such intimate relationships. The University of Kentucky held a study in 2017 on bystander-based programs and it concluded that schools that implemented a bystander intervention program showed a decrease in assaults by 12 percent.

So we can point fingers at which gender assaults which gender more, but what we should really focus on is educating people on what red flags to look out for and how to help our peers when we find them in such a situation. 

Note: Maria Matteo of Queens College’s (QC) Media and College Relations spoke to The Knight News, confirming that Sean Johnsen was formerly employed from April to December 2019 at QC as a part-time assistant women’s soccer coach. Johnsen formerly coached the Franklin Square Raiders, a boys and girls soccer club, a part-time math teacher at Fusion Academy which is a Woodbury private school, and the accusations stemmed from a Nassau County soccer team.

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