So, What Do We Say to Kids About Rape?

Think about it. Since Representative Todd Akin’s epic ‘intentional rape’ gaffe, his fate remains in the hands of Missouri’s constituents and, therefore, there is a chance that he may get elected, or at least keep his current job. That is not to say he isn’t up against a whole lot; who would have thought the Republican Party could dislike one of their own more than Mitt Romney? Overall, the media takes the same stand on this issue: it was inappropriate and it shed light on a leader whose credibility and education should be called into question. But there are layers of issues with Akin’s statement,  yet to be addressed, including the most glaring question of all: What do we say to kids about rape?

Rape may seem discriminatory, but it is an issue worth addressing to both young men and women. There is something very telling about a society when the burden of protecting one against rape falls solely on educating women.

It is understandable; the topic of sex is uncomfortable. No father wants to have that conversation with his daughter, much less the ugly aspects of sex. But it’s necessary. And here’s why:

According to the Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network (RAINN), two out of every three incidents occur between people who know each other. Additionally, a whopping 80% of sexual assault victims are under the age of 30, 44% under age 18. These statistics are based on crimes reported, and most rape incidents go unreported to authorities. As many as 97% of rapists never do time for their crime, making their victims unknowingly vulnerable to attack.

Perhaps the best place to start is by asking a child or young adult if s/he knows the definition of rape, and at what point does sex become rape. The Bureau of Justice defines rape as “forced sexual intercourse, including both psychological coercion as well as physical force. Forced sexual intercourse means penetration by the offender(s). It includes attempted rape, male as well as female victims, and both heterosexual and homosexual rape. Attempted rape also includes verbal threats of rape.” That about covers it all, and counters all of what Representative Akin suggested about “legitimate rape”. It is extremely important, that when we educate young people about sex, especially our siblings, children and other close loved ones, that we have mature and honest discussions about rape. It is a crime, a victim does not “ask for it” as popularly believed by pigheaded men (envision the most repulsive guy possible here), and there are serious psychological consequences for a victim from which they may never recover. It is a serious charge, and since we have 65 year old leaders with their own convoluted definitions of rape, the best we can do is arm our youth with knowledge to counter his stupidity.