Mike Adams

She wasn’t always like this. She was raised in a middle class home by educated parents – both of whom are lifelong self-described liberals. They loved her and cared for her. But they also gave her some poor advice, which largely accounts for her downward spiral over the course of the last several years.

Trouble began for Allison when she was in junior high school. A boy named Barry fell in love with her and started asking her out on dates. She wasn’t interested in Barry. She did not even think she was old enough to start dating. But Barry was persistent to the point of making Allison nervous. So she talked to her parents in the hopes that she could get some good advice.

Because Barry was black, Allison’s parents urged her to go out with him at least once. As old 1960s hippies, they had marched with Martin Luther King, Jr. They wanted to make sure Allison gave Barry a chance and that her initial rejection of Barry wasn’t due to latent racism. “Who knows? You might end up liking him,” they told Allison. So Allison went on the date. It was an unmitigated disaster.

It should go without saying that Allison had a much more difficult time with Barry after agreeing to go out on a date with him. But she firmly and steadfastly rejected his advances even as they grew more assertive. When things started to overwhelm her, she did what she always did: she talked to her parents.

Both of her parents urged her to go out with Barry a second time. This time, however, the point of the meeting would be to negotiate the intensifying conflict between the two of them. “Let him know how uncomfortable he is making you and, above all, make sure he knows it’s just a matter of personalities. It has nothing to do with race. There’s no conflict that cannot be resolved by free and open communication.” Allison went on that second date. The evening concluded with Allison being sexually assaulted by Barry.

It took her several weeks, but Allison eventually told her parents. They reluctantly alerted the authorities. Because Barry was only 13, he was tried as a juvenile. He was adjudicated to be delinquent in Illinois, the first state to create completely separate juvenile and adult justice systems back in 1899.

Prior to the disposition hearing, Allison’s parents pleaded with the juvenile court officer. They asked him not to recommend incarceration for Barry. Instead, they urged him to recommend probation and intensive counseling. The juvenile court officer complied with their request. And the judge affirmed the juvenile court officer’s recommendations.

Mike Adams

Mike Adams is a criminology professor at the University of North Carolina Wilmington and author of Letters to a Young Progressive: How To Avoid Wasting Your Life Protesting Things You Don't Understand.