What a Mason Expert Is Saying About…Chris Brown and Rihanna

Posted: March 16, 2009 at 1:00 am, Last Updated: November 30, -0001 at 12:00 am

By Catherine Ferraro

Mark Hopson
Mark Hopson

For Mark Hopson, Mason assistant professor of communication, the recent situation between pop stars Chris Brown and Rihanna reflects a serious problem in our society and creates an opportunity to stress the importance of teaching young people about violence and relationship abuse early.

On Feb. 8, R&B singer Chris Brown was arrested for allegedly beating up a woman, later identified as his pop star girlfriend Rihanna. After felony charges were filed against Brown and Rihanna was released from the hospital, the pair quickly reconciled.

It comes as no surprise to Hopson, who specializes in intercultural communication and violence prevention communication, that young people have mixed reactions to the situation. This can further complicate how they view their own relationships in the future.

He notes that young people need to be engaged in critical dialogue about violence and encourages educators to be proactive as opposed to reacting to disaster.

“Violence, particularly relationship abuse, is often experienced but seldom taught within formal settings,” says Hopson.

“Add the conflicting messages of love, sex and commitment, and it is not surprising that students are likely to graduate high school with little to no knowledge about unhealthy relationships.”

Hopson assisted in a three-year longitudinal study on the impact of prevention education and saw the ways in which raising consciousness can discourage potential perpetrators and encourage victims to get help.

He uses the Chris Brown and Rihanna situation as a catalyst to discuss the characteristics of violence and the responsibility of society to participate in prevention education.

“Many people suffer in silence. Communication is necessary to break that silence. If perpetrators are strategic enough to maintain secrets, then prevention strategies should work to publicize these issues.

Schools across America need to bring abuse out of the dark shadows into the larger public sphere. Sending the message that abuse will not be tolerated is imperative to curbing the violence,” he says.

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