Teenagers nowadays think nothing of giving each other hugs to greet each other. It is how we raised them. We raised them to show affection, we raised them to love. We also raised them to respect. We raised them to recognize the boundaries of what is right, what is wrong and what is acceptable behavior and what is not.
The other day when I picked her up from school, she was livid. She was outraged that on two separate occasions that day, two boys she considered as friends hugged her as is their usual way greeting each other. The first incident happened between classes. Her friend hugged her but in addition nuzzled her neck and kissed her neck. She said she was disgusted but was too shocked to say anything at the time. A little while later as she was going in to the classroom, another boy did the same thing to her. Whether the two contrived to do this to her or not, she is not sure. She is sure of how it made her feel. It made her feel uncomfortable and it made her feel dirty. She ran into the shower as soon as she got home to wash it all off. The thing is, you can not simply wash off the feeling of having been violated leaves behind.
You can’t simply chuck it to teenage hormones and that boys will be boys. Was she partly responsible for having been subjected to this? Should she consider changing the way she relates to her friends and should she be the one compelled to change classes so she does not have to deal with them again? The answer is a resounding NO.
We raised our girls to know right from wrong and to respect others. We expect them to be treated the same way. We also want them to become women who respect themselves and who demand to be treated treated with respect. They are lucky they have a father who is adamant about protecting his girls. He is the one who pushed her to report the incident to the school. He immediately drove them back to school and conferred with the counselor and the school police. To make a long story short, an investigation was conducted, and the two boys were interviewed. They offered to apologize to her but they were counseled that an apology is a paltry offering for their offense and they have been ordered to stay away from her or face graver consequences.
Our daughter will be going away to college soon and we want her to learn not to let things go by without doing something about it. High school is probably the last institution they will be in where they can still be protected by adults who care about them. Their school, we thought, did an outstanding job handling this situation.
College is an entirely different world and this is where we are sending our gentle and caring girls to. For instance, in this article, a girl is raped in her dorm room and local police refused to prosecute. They say that “one of out 5 women will be sexually assaulted during her college years” and that the perpetrators are seldom expelled or suspended. What the hell?!! Expelled or suspended? We’re talking rape here. They should be prosecuted and put in jail!
WHAT IS RAPE?
One out of five women (that’s 20%) are sexually assaulted during their college years and of those, only twenty percent report it. The rest, an astounding 80 percent of women who are sexually assaulted remain silent. Why, when rape, short of murder, is the most heinous crime perpetrated against women? Many women remain silent because even in these enlightened times we are still made to feel that we are responsible somehow. That maybe we did something that caused this to happen to us. That somehow, it is our fault. Well, we need to get out of that way of thinking.
Sexual assault is anytime a woman or man is subjected to a sexual act that he/she did not consent to. It does not matter if alcohol or promiscuity is involved; if you feel that your personal space has been violated sexually, then it is rape. Rape does not always involve force as some would think, some of the most insidious incidents were perpetrated through coercion or threat or even through drugs. Rape is a heinous act that affects you for the rest of your life. It should not be taken lightly by either sex.
If you’d like to learn more about the issue of sexual assaults in college campuses, read more about the struggle of campus rape victims for justice on the NPR website and on the Center for Public Integrity website.
Rights Of Sexual Assault Victims
What’s now called the Clery Act, enacted in November 1990, requires that higher education institutions publicly disclose all crime that happens on campus. The idea was that students and their parents should be informed — and that public scrutiny would force colleges to get serious about preventing crime.
A 1992 amendment to the Clery Act added a victims’ bill of rights, which requires schools to provide certain basic rights to survivors of sexual assaults on campus, including:
- Giving the alleged victim and the alleged assailant equal opportunity to have others present in disciplinary proceedings.
- Notifying alleged victims of their right to pursue justice through local police, and of the availability of counseling services.
- Notifying alleged victims that they have the option of changing classes and dormitory assignments in order to avoid their alleged assailants.
If a university fails to appropriately handle a reported case of sexual assault, alleged victims can report this to the U.S. Department of Education. Under Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972 — a civil rights law that prohibits sex-based discrimination — sexual harassment, sexual assault and rape are also considered discrimination on the basis of sex.
If a college or university is aware of but ignores sexual harassment or assault, it may be held liable under the law.
— From NPR research and reporting by the Center for Public Integrity
I debated whether to blog about this or not because it seems so personal. I want to protect the privacy of my daughters but the more I think about it and the more I look into it, I become more convinced that it is an issue that could not be ignored and that the more people that know about it, the better it would be for my daughters and all the other daughters out there.
If you have daughters, even sons, this is a subject not to be taken lightly. Any woman who has been assaulted will tell you, the scars do not fade. They stay with you for life.