What Can Parents Do?
For Daughters of Dating Age
Enroll your daughter in the S/HE SAFE™ program so she can learn to recognize, avoid, escape, and fight off a sexual assault. Only one program has been empirically found to actually reduce the incidence of sexual assault among young women. Nothing else has been empirically proven to work.
Know that a study published in The Journal of Adolescent Health in June 2015 surveyed 483 first-year women, most (94%) aged 18 years when entering college, constituting just over one quarter of the females in the incoming class at a large private university in upstate New York. The survey showed that 28% of these women had already suffered an attempted or completed rape between the age of 14 and the date they entered college, and that those previously assaulted women were at higher risk for a repeat sexual assault in college, generally in situations where they were incapacitated by drugs or alcohol.
For Sons of Dating Age
Boys are also sexually assaulted. Men are at the highest risk for sexual assault during the ages of 16-24. The frequency at which this occurs is difficult to know, as few studies exist on the issue and men are less likely to admit to being assaulted. A study published in March 2014 found that 43% of young men experienced some form of sexual coercion (a broader category than sexual assault, which typically relies on legal definitions) from a non-family member. The study found that: “Of 284 [male] U.S. high school and college students who responded to a survey about unwanted sexual encounters, 18 percent reported sexual coercion by physical force; 31 percent said they were verbally coerced; 26 percent described unwanted seduction by sexual behaviors; and 7 percent said they were compelled after being given alcohol or drugs, according to the study. Half of the students said they ended up having intercourse, 10 percent reported an attempt to have intercourse and 40 percent said the result was kissing or fondling.”
Research conducted by S/HE indicates that a man who will rape an incapacitated woman will also, if given the opportunity, rape an incapacitated man. Rape is highly deviant, so rapists do not have “sexual preferences” such as gay or straight. They have “preferred victims” based on who they are most adept at raping. Many if not most sex offenders rape for power, not sex. Thus, sex offenders will “cross over” victims, e.g., a man who rapes women will also rape other men or children if the opportunity presents itself. It is undeniable that men serving time for raping women rape men while in prison. S/HE surveyed professionals who treat sex offenders and virtually none of those professionals could offer any assurance that a sex offender who raped an incapacitated woman would not rape an incapacitated man if given the opportunity.
For All Children of Dating Age
Talk to your child about sexual assault. Teach your child that a typical sexual assault involves not strangers, but two people who know each other. Teach your child that college parties are not safe places to drink excessive alcohol or pass out. Tell your child that s/he can come to you if s/he is sexually assaulted and you will do everything that s/he asks you to do.
Reiterate to your child when s/he begins dating that you love him or her unconditionally, and will always be there for him or her. Many sexual assault victims have a great fear that their parents will find out about the assault and won’t understand, will do something crazy, or will punish or even disown them. As a result, many victims suffer in silence when what they need most is parental help and support.
83% of college sexual assaults involve a victim incapacitated by drugs or alcohol
Teach Your Child About
Responsible Drinking Practices
How much alcohol is in a beer as opposed to the same quantity of wine as opposed to the same quantity of certain popular mixed drinks like college punches, Long Island Iced Tea, margaritas, or other party drinks. Do not simply tell your child not to drink alcohol and leave it at that. Do not assume that because your child does not currently drink alcohol that s/he will never drink alcohol in the future.
Teach Your Child How To Recognize and Escape an Abusive Relationship
Keep in mind that your child probably has no reliable adult available to provide them with accurate information about sex, drugs, and alcohol.
Your child has many questions, few of which s/he will feel comfortable discussing with a parent. Many young men get their information about sex from internet pornography, a completely unrealistic, inaccurate, and often violent source of information. One of the reasons S/HE provides facilitated learning sessions is so the young people can ask a reliable adult about things that they might be uncomfortable discussing with a parent.
Start the Conversation Early
For younger children, teach them about inappropriate touching and to tell you if something like that happens. Your pediatrician knows how to have this conversation with your child and can help guide you through it. Make sure your child knows there should be no secrets between a child and an adult that are kept from both parents, and practice what you preach.
Your child’s school should be reinforcing this message by teaching that there are no secrets at school, but be aware that if you undermine this message at home, those lessons will likely be lost. Be aware yourself that most sexual assaults against children are perpetrated by someone known to and trusted by the parent and the child. Be aware of grooming behavior.
Teach about stranger danger but again, practice what you preach.
Continue the Conversation
When your child starts getting online, monitor your child’s internet
and social media use.
A substantial number of children
are exposed to unwanted sexual solicitations or unwanted pornography.
Understand the danger human trafficking poses to your child. The average age of a child victim of human trafficking in the U.S. is 11 years of age, according to the FBI. Children who are in foster care, run away, or are kicked out of the home (sometimes for being LGBTQ) are at a high risk to be exploited by human traffickers or sex offenders. But children from good homes are also targets for human traffickers, and have been kidnapped from their driveways or lured with promises of modeling jobs, drugs, or parties and then forced into the sex trade.
Children subjected to human trafficking are sold to pedophiles about
24 times a day.
(you read that correctly)
Both boys and girls are victimized by human traffickers and their pedophile customers and need to be educated about the dangers of human trafficking. Human traffickers will often intensively research their potential victims and their families. They will threaten to kill or injure their victim’s family (particularly younger siblings) as a way of maintaining control. They will also falsely claim that the child will be imprisoned for prostitution or other crimes if s/he leaves or reports the human trafficker (sometimes by reading a prostitution statute to the child).
The face of human trafficking in America is documented in the film 8 Days.
Teach Your Child To
Follow His/Her Instincts
When something seems wrong, it probably is wrong.
The best thing to do is forget about being polite
and run and tell an adult immediately.
Investigator Bob Keppel tells the story of a woman at a park who was asked to help a man carry some books to his car. As they approached the car, she got a terrible feeling, dropped the books and ran. Undeterred, the man got another woman to “help” him with his books. He raped and murdered her. The man was serial killer Ted Bundy. Singer Debbie Harry (before her Blondie fame) got into Bundy’s car and noticed the door handle was missing. Terrified, she jumped out the window of the moving car and escaped.
College & High School
Sexual Assault Policy
Find out about your child’s school’s sexual assault policy and write the school demanding changes if warranted.
Who determines whether a sexual assault occurred? Who adjudicates the issue? We believe schools have a conflict of interest in making these determinations. We recommend all schools hire an independent party to investigate sexual assault complaints and a second independent party to adjudicate legitimate sexual assault complaints. We believe the standard of proof should be the same as a sexual harassment complaint in the workplace: preponderance of the evidence. If your child’s school uses school employees to investigate and/or adjudicate sexual assaults, the process is almost certainly biased.
What standard does your school use to determine whether or not a sexual assault took place? A school determination of sexual assault is the equivalent of a civil matter. The loss of a right to attend a school is at stake. The determination by the school does not result in the loss of freedom for the accused. Yet many schools historically used a standard of proof beyond that required in analogous legal cases like sexual harassment complaints. If your school uses a higher standard than preponderance of the evidence to determine whether a sexual assault occurred (such as clear and convincing evidence or beyond a reasonable doubt) that standard is in excess of the standards employed in the vast majority of civil complaints. In other words, the schools would be holding the victim to a standard of proof normally reserved for criminal matters where the accused faces the loss of liberty, as opposed to civil matters where the accused merely faces the loss of privileges or money.
Does the athletic department have its own standards for adjudicating sexual assaults? What does it say about a school that has one set of procedures for some students and a separate set of procedures for other students? What does it say about the adults in charge of those programs? Many older people reflect that a coach had the most influence on their life other than their parents. How do the institutions’ coaches use that power? Do the coaches teach students to be better people or do the coaches teach students that good performance on game day remedies all sins? Is there a culture of accountability or a culture of entitlement? What is the demeanor of the coaches when discipline issues occur? Does the coach act like a person of integrity who demands accountability, or does the coach look like a sleazy criminal lawyer defending a guilty client? Does the coach use the promise of sex as a recruiting tool?
Does the school require a sexual assault victim to sign a confidentiality form prior to reporting a sexual assault? Many of those forms can be read broadly enough to prohibit the victim from reporting the assault to police, which is arguably obstruction of justice. Is the existence and content of this form disclosed in advance to the student body or is the policy and the form itself sprung on a victim reeling from the trauma of a sexual assault?
Are sexual assault adjudication policies and procedures fair, impartial, and generally understandable? Or does the process resemble a star chamber where the accused and accuser are kept in the dark and unable to understand their rights? Are there appeals processes that favor one side over the other? For example, does one side have the right to keep appealing adverse findings to higher authorities, while the other side has no such rights?
Find out whether your child’s school does anonymous and random surveys to determine the level of sexual assault at the school. Schools that do not perform these random surveys are hiding the truth from you and your child concerning the prevalence of sexual assault.
Raise the issue of sexual assault when being solicited for donations.
Don’t fund institutions that have policies that give rise to inherent conflicts of interest (which can be unfair to both the victim and the accused) or that treat sexual assault as insignificant.