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Teens need to know about rape

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Two high school boys were recently found guilty of raping a drunken 16-year-old girl. The case caught national attention as other teens posted videos and photos of the assault on social media. Every parent wants to believe that their child would be the one to call for aid and not take advantage of anyone by posting pictures, tweeting, or otherwise “spreading the news.” But teens are frequently impulsive, self-centered and more concerned about their personal relationships than they are about what happens to a victim. Some of the teens claimed that they didn’t know that what they witnessed was rape. Parents must talk with teens about rape.

Teens need to know and understand what rape is, how it happens, and what to do in the event they witness a rape. Girls between the ages of fifteen and nineteen years old are at highest risk of rape, but teenage boys can also be victimized, most often by other males. The US Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) defines rape as: “The penetration, no matter how slight, of the vagina or anus with any body part or object, or oral penetration by a sex organ of another person, without the consent of the victim." Rape is forced either physically or emotionally, and some rapists use alcohol or drugs, known as date rape drugs, to remove a victim’s ability to fight back. These drugs are odorless and tasteless and difficult to detect when in drinks or mixed with other drugs. If a person is either drunk or on drugs, they cannot consent to sex and having sex with that person is legally considered rape.

Parents should discuss with their teens what to do in the event of rape, how to proceed if they witness a rape, and how best to protect themselves and their friends from rape. The silence and shame associated with rape and a “blame the victim” mentality helps no one.

Here are some resources:

The Rape, Abuse, and Incest National Network (RAINN)

National Sexual Assault Hotline

1-800-656-HOPE (1-800-656-4673)

National Domestic Violence Hotline

1-800-799-SAFE ( 1-800-799-7233) or
1-800-787-3224 (TDD)

Girls and Boys Town National Hotline

1-800-448-3000 or 1-800-448-1833 (TDD)

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