Rape myths debated in schools


by Rumbold
26th May, 2010 at 10:04 pm    

The Telegraph disapproves. I think it is a good idea:

Children as young as 11 are being asked to debate myths surrounding rape – including claims that “women ask for it by wearing short skirts”. A charity is distributing teaching materials to secondary schools as part of a campaign to end violence against women.

The pack, which schools can buy for £100, covers subjects such as domestic violence, female genital mutilation, forced marriages, prostitution and human trafficking. Rape Crisis said the lessons were intended to encourage mixed classes of boys and girls to discuss issues surrounding rape.

In one class, pupils are asked to debate claims that “women enjoy rape”, while another lesson instructs children to discuss the myth that “women ask for it by wearing short skirts, drinking alcohol etc”.

As long as we live in a society where people are still willing to victim-blame, we need education like this. And as with a lot of reports regarding schools, I suspect that eleven year olds are not being taught about the graphic aspects; it is just that they happen to be at the same school.


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  1. Dr Petra Boynton

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  1. Yakoub — on 26th May, 2010 at 10:22 pm  

    I started my secondary PGCE, teaching PSE and RE, but never finished it. While I was training, I taught a series of lessons on rape to year 9. In one class, a small group of 14 yo lads mouthed off about women asking for it. I was shocked, and sadly not experienced or skilled enough to deal with them. That lesson was one of the reasons why I switched to primary. Dealing with hormonal young men is beyond me, but for those with the talent, anything to help shape positive sexual attitudes would be a good thing if my experience is anything to go by.

  2. earwicga — on 26th May, 2010 at 10:36 pm  

    Age is the biggest risk factor for experiencing sexual victimisation; women aged 16 to 24
    were more likely to say they had been sexually victimised in the last year than older women.

    http://rds.homeoffice.gov.uk/rds/pdfs2/r159.pdf

    •Up to 47% of women report that their first sexual intercourse was forced (WHO 2002).

    http://www.amnesty.org/en/library/asset/ACT77/034/2004/en/731d780e-d60e-11dd-bb24-1fb85fe8fa05/act770342004en.html
    The facts make a mockery of the ignorant spokesperson from the Campaign for Real Education who said:

    “Just because these things happen does not mean that children need to have them rammed in their faces.

    It’s about bloody time rape was on the curriculum, and as Yakoub testifies to, it should be taught by properly trained teachers.

  3. Calimari — on 27th May, 2010 at 12:20 am  

    These crimes against women are deplorable. However one should not overlook the sexualised western capitalist society in which such things are possible, because it discourages modesty in dress, which is at least a better guaruntee of safe behaviour. These problems are not so great in non-western countries which do not have the ‘in your face’ image of women.

  4. Sarah AB — on 27th May, 2010 at 7:26 am  

    Calimari – in some non-western countries women may be forced into marriage and rape witin marriage may not be recognized. Women may also be prevented from going out in the evening freely, or going on holiday by themselves. I don’t think a *possible* increase in safety is worth such a clampdown on freedom. There is perhaps a case for looking at the way in which the commodification of women in lads’ mags is a bit too ‘in your face’ – but I don’t think women should have to adhere to someone else’s view of what is modest in order to avoid rape.

  5. platinum786 — on 27th May, 2010 at 8:52 am  

    The idea is good, but I’m not happy with the age groups involved. Why do 11 year olds need to discuss rape? Teach it to 13-14 year olds, but 11?

  6. cim — on 27th May, 2010 at 9:09 am  

    platinum786: Given the recent news where two 11 year olds were convicted of attempted rape, I think there’s an argument that 11 is too late.

    Discussions of consent and bodily autonomy – in general terms, not focused on rape – need to start well before then.

    earwicga: Absolutely. The government should have put this on the curriculum – and given proper training – long ago. The current SRE guidance barely mentions consent.

  7. Sofia — on 27th May, 2010 at 9:41 am  

    I try to think back to when I was 11 ..a long time ago..and I really wish kids were allowed to be kids…you know..play footie, hot butty etc etc…grab snacks on the way home and not get fat because you played it off in the playground and during P.E…etc…I’m not sure teaching 11 year olds about rape is a good idea…I think kids are being sexualised far too early. I would think maybe allow kids to settle into high school and getting to grips with that change and maybe teach them about rape in the latter half of their year 8..?

  8. platinum786 — on 27th May, 2010 at 9:57 am  

    I didn’t know what sex was at 11. I’d never watched pornography and every time a sex scene appeared on TV my parents would change the channel.

    Why are 11 year old’s today raping? Also how common is that? Why not start at 4-5, after all those 10 year old’s have been recently convicted.

    It’s getting ridiculous. Apparently children who aren’t even biologically sexually active are having sex or forcing it upon others.

    Maybe you need to remove the amount of sex on display in society? Or is that just crazy talk? More crazy than children who are probably sexually inactive having sex.

  9. Kulvinder — on 27th May, 2010 at 10:34 am  

    I also think its a good idea; sex education when i was 11 or 12 – in yr7- was overwhelmingly about the biological process involved; which whilst interesting doesn’t really deal with the emotional or social aspects of sex. I think its good that children should know what behaviour is and isn’t acceptable.

    And yes 14 year old boys are pillocks, but from my own experience they almost certainly didn’t ‘actually’ mean what they were saying, its more a defence mechanism if you don’t have the emotional maturity to deal with a particular subject, you make fun of it or be ott with machismo.

  10. earwicga — on 27th May, 2010 at 11:02 am  

    Platinum, Sofia – would you rather that eleven year olds were taught about rape by being raped? You can’t pretend it isn’t happening.

    Platinum:

    Why not start at 4-5,

    Exactly. As cim states above, teaching young children about consent and bodily autonomy is an essential part of protecting children from sexual and physical abuse.

    Kulvinder – it is a taught attitude which can be mitigated against by good teaching from schools, parents and peers.

  11. Kulvinder — on 27th May, 2010 at 11:22 am  

    This made me want to rip my eyes and ears off…but i suppose their heart was in the right place

  12. Joseph Edwards — on 27th May, 2010 at 11:23 am  

    It should be noted that “as young as 11″ is typical Telegraph weaselworded bullshit. The pack is available to secondary schools; there is no evidence that the pack is intended for or is used for Year 7 classes, in any or all parts, and I seriously doubt that it is.

    I hope schools will take up Rape Crisis on their offer because this is something that really needs to be taught in schools. Young people are completely ill-informed on this and it’s a worrying and indeed dangerous state of affairs.

  13. damon — on 27th May, 2010 at 11:42 am  

    I think it is ridiculous that the two boys were charged with attempted rape and are now the country’s youngest convicted sex offenders.

    And I’d say that 11 is too young to be talking about rape, but certainly not to young to be told about respecting other people and being a good person.

    I’d leave it up to the headteachers to ultimately decide what is right for their school, as there is such a difference between types of schools.

    If teachers were concerned that bad attitudes were prevalent amongst some of their pupils then they definitely need some talking too.

  14. earwicga — on 27th May, 2010 at 11:50 am  

    damon – I’ll ask you the same question I asked others above. Would you rather that children found out about rape by being raped?

  15. platinum786 — on 27th May, 2010 at 12:16 pm  

    Earwicga,

    Would you rather that children found out about torture by being tortured?

    Would you rather that children found out about murder by being murdered?

    Would you rather that children found out about heroin by being heroin addicts?

    Would you rather that children found out about paedophilia by being victims of peadophiles?

    Lets get them into the classroom, tell them about everything bad, before they’re raped in the playground.

  16. damon — on 27th May, 2010 at 12:16 pm  

    Of course not earwicga. But does it need to be so specific? In mixed schools I would see nothing wrong with the boys being taken aside and given some advice on respecting women and what is and isn’t appropriate.

    But I just have this image of some kind of Jerry Springer/Ricki Lake kind of free-for-all in the classroom. Obviously the teacher would have to be completely in control and not let it turn into a situation where kids might be talking like some rappers do about women.

  17. earwicga — on 27th May, 2010 at 12:24 pm  

    Exactly Platinum, so why did you write?:

    The idea is good, but I’m not happy with the age groups involved. Why do 11 year olds need to discuss rape?

    You have answered your question in your comment at 14.

    Damon – rape is pretty specific. All PSE teaching is age sensitive. Why just give a 1950′s style talk to boys? It is essential that children, in an age sensitive way, are taught that they live in a rape culture, and how to not permuate it or fall victim to it.

  18. earwicga — on 27th May, 2010 at 12:37 pm  

    Joseph Edwards – I’ve just released your comment from ‘spam’ and that is a really good point! I had assumed that the pack was intended at all ages from 11 but now need to check that.

  19. damon — on 27th May, 2010 at 12:47 pm  

    There lies the problem for me earwicga. I don’t think I can go along with this concept of rape culture.

    Not that I understand it that well, but I would be suspicious of the people who were pushing such an agenda for the classroom.

    Rape culture is a term used within women’s studies and feminism, describing a culture in which rape and other sexual violence (usually against women) are common and in which prevalent attitudes, norms, practices, and media condone, normalize, excuse, or encourage sexualized violence.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rape_culture

  20. earwicga — on 27th May, 2010 at 12:55 pm  

    It’s not really a problem for you though damon is it? You’re not really the target of the rape culture we live in.

  21. Sofia — on 27th May, 2010 at 1:09 pm  

    Earwicga – I don’t think children need to be learning about rape in the context of ‘women deserving or not deserving it’ at that age..no…but I do think that teaching children about inappropriate behaviour/touching is essential..although I’d stop at introducing it within a ‘rape culture’ context

  22. damon — on 27th May, 2010 at 1:19 pm  

    It’s the term itself that I can’t get my head around.
    I agree with the first bit of that definition I put up there, that violence against women is common, but this is the bit I don’t get….

    …prevalent attitudes, norms, practices, and media condone, normalize, excuse, or encourage sexualized violence.

    Who’s encouraging it? Zoo and Nuts lad’s mags? The sun newspaper?

    I would say that there is misogyny in particular areas. The rap industry springs to mind. The Daily Sport paper perhaps. The porn industry in parts .. definitely. All manner of sexism …sure.
    But who encourages?

    ‘Rape culture’ could certainly be the the subject of a discussion for older crildern doing social studies about feminist theory, but I don’t think I’d want it taught as fact.

    What happens when the bright 14 year old in class says ”Miss – I don’t think I agree with this concept of rape culture,/I> you’re teaching us”?

    Just tell them that they are wrong?

  23. earwicga — on 27th May, 2010 at 1:25 pm  

    No Damon. It is understandable that you, or anyone really is defensive about this reality. But I do hope you keep reading about rape culture until you have a fuller understanding.

  24. halima — on 27th May, 2010 at 1:26 pm  

    I think it’s a good move actually. Lots of 11year olds are sexually active and many 11 and 10 year olds girls/young women I know are bothered and harassed in the streets and at school. More work like this is likely to equip them with the skills to deter men – after all, if it’s the case that younger women are more likely to be harassed than women in their mid or late 20s, it suggests that it’s preventable and the ‘victim’ is picked depending on how young or unlikely they will be to shouting ‘f*** off’ or ‘rape’. This sort of education is likely to make girls more confident to raise the alarm bell when it’s happening and far too many girls at the moment suffer in silence or don’t know how to put a stop to it . Usually, it’s a relative, a bloke at the bus stop or train or sometimes co-workers.

  25. halima — on 27th May, 2010 at 1:38 pm  

    A little bit of education to in school to make kids see gender stereotypes wouldn’t be a bad move either -why blue is always for boys and pink for girls and dolls for girl babies.. I am sure many schools are doing this already. I am still baffled that even now I am surrounded by parents who bring their kids up in the same stereotypes, it’s not simply educating kids about ‘rape’ etc, it’s about getting them to see/understand that girls and boys are equal so that they realise that if at home the girls are being asked to do more housework they see that this is clearly rooted in attitudes that girls are suited to domestic work. It seems to cut across all cultures, I sort of expected it from maybe families where education is lacking, but I was astounded to see the same practices in nice middle class families with a bit more education spread across the family unit. Politicians’ wives in the recent election campaigns come to mind.

  26. KJB — on 27th May, 2010 at 1:42 pm  

    However one should not overlook the sexualised western capitalist society in which such things are possible, because it discourages modesty in dress, which is at least a better guaruntee of safe behaviour. These problems are not so great in non-western countries which do not have the ‘in your face’ image of women.

    Hello rape myth and victim blaming all in one! Where’s my bingo card?

    Sofia:

    I’m not sure teaching 11 year olds about rape is a good idea…I think kids are being sexualised far too early.

    Both you and Platinum make the mistake here of thinking that rape is about sex. Rape is not sex, it is sexual violence that is wielded as a weapon for power purposes. Anyone can be raped at any age; child abuse is a perfect example of this.

    Why do you think it is wrong that the issue of ‘women deserving or not deserving it’ is discussed ‘at that age’? I’ve seen no real arguments against this measure, just some people asserting their emotional responses and Damon talking some utter BS (which is also contradictory in parts!).

    In that vein, one could equally argue against giving children proper sex education when they are young, which is an incredibly counterproductive position to take, as teenage pregnancy stats from places like the Netherlands always show. It’s not like these kids are actually going to be raped in order to learn about it, is it? Platinum’s comment at #15 makes no sense, and as Earwicga says, answers its own questions. Furthermore, as Joseph Edwards mentions above, there is no evidence that this will be used for younger years.

    I did a placement in an inner-city school last year, which destroyed any misty inclinations I might’ve had about safeguarding the innocence of children ‘at that age.’ Children as young as 11 naturally deferred to male teachers and showed them a respect that the female teachers had to work much harder for. One teacher I became friendly with actually had a Year 7 boy who kept disrupting her classes write in his letter of apology: ‘I am not sorry, because I hate Miss. I hate Miss and I hate women.’

  27. KJB — on 27th May, 2010 at 1:51 pm  

    Seconding halima!

  28. damon — on 27th May, 2010 at 5:17 pm  

    KJB, you didn’t say exactly it was that you found utter BS.

    I certainly think that wrong attitudes should be challenged. And the approcach shown in this Channel 4 series ”Sex education vs porn” showed a good way to teach young people I thought.

    In a world where many young people use porn to learn about sex, picking-up potentially dangerous behaviours and attitudes along the way, it’s time to fight back with some sex and relationship education. Accompanied by a team of sexual health experts, presenter Anna travelled to secondary schools across the country giving young people the crucial sex education they are missing.

    http://sexperienceuk.channel4.com/sex-education

  29. Sarah Learmonth — on 28th May, 2010 at 9:24 am  

    I work for a Rape Crisis Centre and we support clients from the age of 10 years old.

    Of our 3,000 clients per year, around 30% are children and around 20-25% conservatively are adults who were raped or abused in childhood.

    The latest DoH figures (Taskforce Alberti, March 2010) put the amount of under 16 year olds raped or abused at 16% and that 72% never tell anyone. It’s in epidemic proportions.

    All of these kids think it only happened to them, therefore it was their fault and no-one would believe them. The adults raped as kids say that had it been discussed ever, they would have asked for help to stop it at the time.

    It may be uncomfortable for us to accept, but rather face that awkwardness than leave these kids to their fate.

  30. KJB — on 28th May, 2010 at 11:55 am  

    Here’s some of your BS, Damon:

    ‘Rape culture’ could certainly be the the subject of a discussion for older crildern doing social studies about feminist theory, but I don’t think I’d want it taught as fact.

    Nobody anywhere has said anything about ‘teaching rape culture.’ I’m not entirely sure how one would go about ‘teaching culture’ anyway.

    Earlier you contradicted yourself:

    But I just have this image of some kind of Jerry Springer/Ricki Lake kind of free-for-all in the classroom. Obviously the teacher would have to be completely in control and not let it turn into a situation where kids might be talking like some rappers do about women.

    So, you got all carried away with your feverish fantasies… then acknowledged that the reality would very likely be nothing to do with that.

    You ask ‘Who encourages?’ That’s the wrong question – the question should not be ‘Who encourages?’ but ‘Who dismisses?’ The instinctive defensiveness of so many men (and some women), the desire to dismiss rape culture and what feminists think because you don’t like it – that’s far more telling. It reminds of the way in which anti-choice men systematically ignore what women think or feel about abortion because, conveniently enough, it’s not like THEY’RE ever going to get pregnant!

    ‘Rape myths’ are a fact, whether you like it or not. Everyone thinks of rape as something that happens when a stranger attacks a woman, but the vast majority of rapes are committed by someone the victim knows. Bet you didn’t know that, eh? That’s certainly something I’d want any future children of mine to know, so that they wouldn’t blame any women/girls they knew for an act which is often a world-shattering betrayal of trust besides being a horrendous physical violation.

  31. KJB — on 28th May, 2010 at 11:56 am  

    That should be rape myths without the quotation marks… None too sure what happened there.

  32. earwicga — on 28th May, 2010 at 12:36 pm  

    Sarah – those are horrific figures.

    KJB – agreed.

  33. damon — on 28th May, 2010 at 5:27 pm  

    KJB, did you miss earwicga’s comment to me @ 17?
    That’s why I talked about rape culture here.

    And it’s from the definition of RC that I had read and quoted @ 19 that I got the word ‘encourages’.

    …prevalent attitudes, norms, practices, and media condone, normalize, excuse, or encourage sexualized violence.

    Now this was maybe all a bit of a red herring as schools are not bent on teaching RC at all.

    But you are still talking about rape culture here as if to have a difference of opinion with a certain strand of any particular theory or set of ideas and thinking means one is in denial.

    There all kinds of different opinions from feminists on this kind of issue. Is that not the case?

    There is this example of rape culture perhaps …
    http://yesmeansyesblog.wordpress.com/2009/07/23/this-is-what-rape-culture-looks-like/

    …. and the reason I said earlier that I didn’t really recognise this culture, is that’s not the kind of world I live in. I don’t have power over anyone, and neither by the look of it, did the the greater majority of the people I observed walking around in Belfast this afternoon.

    But you’ll understand where I get my ‘denialist’ views from when I say that I have usually taken my Q from these people on matters like this.
    http://www.spiked-online.com/articles/0000000CAFFB.htm

    But can I just add lastly. This is not really an area I have great knowledge in and am always happy to be put right on things.

  34. damon — on 30th May, 2010 at 6:31 pm  

    KJB, did you miss earwicga’s comment to me @ 17?
    That’s why I talked about rape culture here.

    That’s the problem with this way of talking over the internet.
    Someone pops up and says you’re talking BS – then disappears.

    You can’t drag this stuff out over days.

  35. earwicga — on 30th May, 2010 at 6:51 pm  

    Why damon? It is still a conversation but without the immediate responses. FYI I cannot read another link to your fave Spiked site. There’s something very wrong with the people who write there.

  36. damon — on 30th May, 2010 at 7:12 pm  

    Why damon? It is still a conversation but without the immediate responses.

    Is it not more like rolling news? (rolling threads?) where after a few days the conversation goes cold as a new subject becomes current? That’s the way it looks like to me.

    Last year on the leftist site I am now banned on, after saying some of the things I have have said here, I was told by a couple of women to ”STFU” and to ”go and get some porn”.

    Thankfully PP isn’t as shallow.

    I don’t like all of what that Spiked site says.
    I’m in Belfast and I particularly think their Northen Ireland commentary is too pro Republican.

    But their stuff about gender/feminist politics I find to be quite convincing. Especially when one of their leading spokespeople is the head of the British Pregnancy Advisory Service.

  37. over yonder — on 6th June, 2010 at 2:54 am  

    it is for paents to provide their children with information on matters sexual.parents are able to tailor that information in a way that best suits the child.@platinum 786 and sofia,isn’t it possible that a muslim youngster of 11 or 12 might experience nocturnal emissions which would necessitate ghusl (showering)for purification? if we weren’t to discuss that with them, there’d be a risk they’d perform prayer in a state of ritual impurity which is, of course, impermissible.

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