There continues to be fallout from the altercation between high profile Chris Brown and Rhianna. Reportedly Brown hit Rhianna while arguing in Hancock Park, an upscale neighborhood in Los Angeles. A day after his arrest, the makers at Doublemint gum shelved ads featuring Brown singing a new jingle. A spokeswoman for Rihanna's highest-profile endorsement, CoverGirl Cosmetics, said ads featuring Rihanna are still running nationally, but declined to discuss whether her status as an alleged victim of domestic violence would affect the future of the campaign.
While the media and advertising world are looking at the cost of abuse in terms of dollars, I think there is a much, much higher cost in terms of people. Eugene Kane from the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel visited a group of eighth-grade students at Hi-Mount Elementary School in Milwaukee last week for Black History Month. Following his talk, the subject of Brown and Rhianna came up.
Kane asked the girls whether they thought many of their peers believed it was all right for their boyfriends to attack them physically. Almost every hand in the room went up. It is clear that many of these girls have no idea what a healthy relationship is. Many come from fractured families with a history of abuse. Too often, they simply view it as "normal."
Therein is the real problem with the Chris Brown and Rhianna fiasco. It reinforces the stereotype of abusive relationships. The fact that they are so "beautiful" and "famous" gives the violence a certain type of credibility in the eyes of too many young people. If they are doing it, it must be OK. It must be what a "real man" does.
Parents would be wise to use this event as teachable moment for their children. Hitting, verbal or physical violence is never a part of a good relationship--no matter who you are.
Barbara Bartlein is the People Pro. How is the Health of Your Relationship? Take Barb's FREE quiz at Marriage Quiz.