From the Desk - Its More Than Just No Means No

Ridge Meadows

2017-09-29 07:41 PDT

For years we have told our children that No means No. Seems clear, right? Except that, it isn’t.

In my 20 years of policing I am seeing more and more cases where one person involved in the equation is not capable of saying No or Stop. What about the person who is intoxicated, is passed out or unconscious, or is in a vulnerable position? What about when a person can’t say No or Stop because they’re in a bad spot or are being manipulated or do not fully understand the impact of what is happening? What about when someone doesn’t have the strength or means to say no or stop because they are scared? This now introduces a power imbalance into the equation.

Whether it is a fight, a sexual act, behaviour that makes you feel uncomfortable or the posting of humiliating or embarrassing images on social media, without clear permission the answer is always No. Failing to respect another person’s wishes or, what someone would have wished, often results in my involvement as a police officer.

You are probably thinking, These scenarios have an implied No or Stop. I am having this conversation because that is not always the case. I am telling you that nobody is immune to this kind of behaviour. Many lives are impacted when poor decisions are made because of alcohol, drugs, or simply bad choices.

So, what’s my point?

My point is, the absence of No does not imply Yes. No, is about the person who can say No. And it is about the person who doesn’t or simply can’t say No.

In writing this my hope was to reach teens and young adults because this group makes up the majority of the criminal investigations I am referring to above. But, I am not convinced these groups are following our RCMP Facebook and Twitter feeds. So, I hope parents, aunts, uncles, older siblings, coaches, teachers and mentors for these groups, who are reading this, start the conversation.

I hope you take the time to tell the young men and women around you that EVERYONE needs to be mindful and respectful of the physical and personal dignity of each individual. I hope you encourage teens and emerging adults to interrupt, stop and prevent their own friends and sometimes strangers from doing these things. I hope you tell them that if they have seen, heard or become aware of this happening that you support them coming forward with information.

I suspect some readers are thinking That wouldn’t happen to my family, my son would never do that, my daughter would not get into that situation. My heart goes out to the parents over the last 20 years who have sat in my office, in tears, over what they never believed could be possible.

I hope you start a conversation.

Superintendent Jennifer Hyland
Ridge Meadows RCMP

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