GATES, N.Y. (WROC) — As Gates police investigate accusations of a 14-year-old high school student raping a 15-year-old girl at Gates Chili High School, counselors and the school district are advising parents to talk with their children about preventing this behavior and coping with the burdens left on others.
According to Gates police, the assault happened inside the school around 3:00 p.m. on Friday, September 17. Police say the suspect and the 15-year-old victim are both students, though the suspect is no longer allowed on school grounds.
Counselors who work closely with troubled teens say this is not the time for piling blame on anyone, but instead have a serious discussion. Experts in children’s mental health urge parents to make sure they and another adult figure always be in their kids’ life to mentor them towards doing the right thing.
“Some families are affiliated with a church and that can be a good place to teach good behavior in children,” Nancy Mooney, a long-time school counselor said, “other outside groups or a mentor like another family member.”
Counselors say it can be difficult to speak up or have discussions in times like these because accusers feel helpless, fearing the blame may shift to them. Counselors say to get around this, children must always know they have someone to turn to.
“Even as young as 1-5 you teach kids to ask permission before touching and embracing a playmate,” Mooney said. “You are helping to create empathy with your child and never force a child to hug or touch or kiss anybody for any reason.”
In their latest statement, the Gates Chili School District emphasized they have increased mental health resources on campus saying “This team includes school counselors, psychologists, and social workers. These staff members are available to students and staff in need at any time.”
The district added they advise parents to talk with their children about personal safety and the importance of speaking up. Then they should contact school staff if they have any concerns.
Since appearing before a judge, the 14-year-old arraigned on the charges has been released back into the custody of his parents. Gates police have not released his name due to his age.