Posts Tagged ‘sexual assault’

9

Jan

Get ready! It’s Pennsylvania Teen Health Week!

 

Help us celebrate!Editor’s note: This is a guest post from Laura Offutt, MD, whose digital health resource, Real Talk with Dr. Offutt, developed Teen Health Week in collaboration with the College of Physicians of Philadelphia and the Pennsylvania Department of Health with support from the Pennsylvania Medical Society. Laura is a volunteer internal medicine physician, youth mentor and advocate who uses social media and her blog-based website to engage adolescents with teen-friendly, accurate health information.

Get ready! This week is Pennsylvania Teen Health Week! As proclaimed by Governor Tom Wolf, Pennsylvania Teen Health Week to focuses on the overall health of teenagers from Philadelphia to Pittsburgh and everywhere in between. Pennsylvania is the first and only state to have such a statewide proclamation and observance – but soon Teen Health Week will be a national celebration!

It’s easy to be a part of this special week.  Involvement can be as simple as hanging a flyer announcing the week in your school, church or community center, or wearing lime green, the official color of Teen Health Week.  We even have a toolkit which is full of easy ideas for activities, sample social media posts, and a variety of resources which are organized around the broad themes covered in the week.

Each day has a specific broad health focus:

Monday: Healthy Diet and Exercise

Tuesday: Violence Prevention

WednesdayMental Health

Thursday: Sexual Development and Health

Friday: Substance Use and Abuse

Why is Teen Health Week important? Well, did you know that in Pennsylvania more than a third of our young feel depressed or sad most days?  Or that many teens think that driving after smoking marijuana is safer than after drinking? Or that 1 in 3 high school students have been in an abusive relationship? Or that fewer than one-tenth of our teens broke a sweat for one short hour in the past week?  And that fifteen- to nineteen-year-olds account for nearly half of the cases of chlamydia and gonorrhea in Pennsylvania?

As you can see, there are plenty of good reasons to have a week focused on teen health here in Pennsylvania!

Don’t worry – it’s not too late to take part in this fun and special week!  Here are a few ideas of how you can be a part of it:

Wear lime green. It’s the official Teen Health Week color.

Get artsy. Use post-it notes and set up a New Year’s Resolution wall that week – where teens can put anonymous health resolutions for 2017! You know, like “eat a fruit every day.”  Or, “make sure to get enough sleep.”

Hashtag for health. Share or post educational announcements or social media posts focused on each day’s health theme with friends or students. (Find these in the toolkit, or on SafeTeens’ social media channels.)

Help us celebrate! Attend the kick-off at the State Capitol Building in Harrisburg on January 9th, or the Friday the 13th celebration at the Mutter Museum in Philadelphia.

Plus, there are a lot more easy and fun ideas already created for you in our toolkit!

2

Apr

Guest Post: The Healthy Sex Talk: Teaching Teens Consent

 

Screen-Shot-2013-03-19-at-11.29.47-PMEditor’s note: This is a guest post from Jamie Utt, Julie Gillis, Alyssa Royse and Joanna Schroeder, editors of The Good Men Project. An extended version of this post was originally published here.

The ongoing horror of rape in the news, from Penn State to the young women raped and killed in India to Steubenville, has proven to be a wake-up call for many parents. We always knew that rape was a problem, but never before have we been so mobilized to create change.

As writers, educators, and advocates of sex-positivity and healthy consent, the four of us have been inundated with requests from parents for advice on how to help create a future with less rape and sexual assault.

We believe parents can start educating children about consent and empowerment as early as 1 year old and continuing into the college years. It is our sincere hope that this education can help us raise empowered young adults who have empathy for others and a clear understanding of healthy consent.

We hope parents and educators find this list of action items and teaching tools helpful, and that together we can help create a generation of children who have less rape and sexual assault in their lives.

 

Guidelines for Teens and Young Adults

See also: Guidelines for Preschoolers and Grade Schoolers

1. Education about “good touch/bad touch” is crucial, particularly in middle school. This is an age where various “touch games” emerge: butt-slapping, boys hitting one another in the genitals and pinching each other’s nipples to cause pain. When kids talk about these games, a trend emerges where boys explain that they think the girls like it, but the girls explain that they do not.

We must get kids talking about the ways in which these games impact other people. They will try to write it off, but it’s important to encourage them to talk it through, and ask them how they would feel if someone hit them in that way, or did something that made them feel uncomfortable or violated.

When you see it happen, nip it in the bud. This isn’t “boys being boys”, this is harassment, and sometimes assault.

 

2. Build teens’ self esteem. In middle school, bullying shifts to specifically target identity, and self-esteem starts to plummet around age 13. By age 17, 78% of girls report hating their bodies.

We tend to build up our smaller kids by telling them how great they are. For some reason, we stop telling kids all the wonderful aspects of who they are when they reach middle school. But this actually a very crucial time to be building up our kids’ self-esteem, and not just about beauty. Remark to them regularly about their talents, their skills, their kindness, as well as their appearance.

Even if they shrug you off with a, “Dad! I know!” it’s always good to hear the things that make you great.

 

3. Continue having “sex talks” with middle schoolers, but start incorporating information about consent. We’re often good at talking about waiting until marriage to have sex, or about sexually-transmitted infections, or about practicing safer sex. But we don’t usually talk about consent. By middle school, it’s time to start.

Ask questions like, “How do you know whether your partner is ready to kiss you?” and “How do you think you can tell if a girl (or boy) is interested in you?”

This is a great time to explain enthusiastic consent. About asking permission to kiss or touch a partner. Explain that only “yes” means “yes”. Don’t wait for your partner to say “no” to look for consent.

Educating our middle schoolers about consent means we don’t have to re-educate them later and break bad habits, perhaps after somebody’s been hurt.

 

4. Nip “locker room talk” in the bud. Middle school is the age where sex-talk begins in gender-segregated environments, like locker rooms and sleep overs. Their crushes and desire are normal and healthy. But as parents and educators, we need to do more than just stop kids from talking about other kids like they’re objects. We also need to model how to talk about our crushes as whole people.

If you overhear a kid say, “She’s a hot piece of ass” you could say, “Hey, I think she’s more than just an ass!” You can keep it jokey, and they’ll roll their eyes at you, but it sinks in. They need a model for grown-ups who are doing things right. Even saying something like, “It’s also cool that she (or he) is so awesome at tennis, isn’t it?”

 

5. Explain that part of growing up is having changing hormones, and that hormones sometimes make it hard to think clearly. Sometimes that means our desire feels overwhelming, or that we’re angry, confused or sad. It’s common, and perfectly okay, to be overwhelmed or confused by these new feelings.

Tell your kids that no matter what they’re feeling, they can talk to you about it. But their feelings, desires and needs are no one’s responsibility but their own. They still need to practice kindness and respect for everyone around them.

 

6. Mentor teenage and college-aged boys and young men about what masculinity is. Men need to talk to boys about what’s good about masculinity. Ask what hasn’t been so good about our culture of masculinity in the past. How can we build a more inclusive form of masculinity that embraces all types of guys: from jocks to theater kids to queer folks to everyday you-and-me? These conversations can encourage a non-violent form of masculinity for the future.

Boys need to start talking about building a healthy masculinity starting in middle school and continue through college, because transforming masculinity is vital to transforming rape culture.

 

7. Talk honestly with kids about partying. Make it clear that you don’t want them drinking or using drugs, but that you know kids party and you want your kids to be informed. Ask them questions about how they are going to keep themselves and others safe when they’re drinking. Questions such as:

  • How will you know when you’ve had too much to drink?
  • How will you handle it if your driver has had too much to drink? (Make clear that your child can always call you to come get him or her if needed).
  • How will you know if your drinking or drug use has reached a dangerous level, or crossed into addiction?
  • How does your behavior change when you’ve had too much to drink? How can you protect others from yourself in that situation if, perhaps, you become an angry drunk or start violating people’s space or safety?
  • How will you know whether it’s okay to kiss someone, touch someone, or have sex with someone when you’ve had a lot to drink? Explain that decisions sometimes become cloudy, and signals become unclear when we are impaired. How will you be sure that you are reading the other person’s signals accurately? Suggest that they always ask for permission to touch or kiss another person, especially when there’s drinking involved.
  • Although it should be obvious, explain that a person who is drunk, high or otherwise impaired should not be touched, harassed or sexually assaulted. Teach your children to stand up for, and seek help for, a fellow partygoer who has had to much too drink.
  • Be careful about the language you use with your kids about partying. The responsibility is never on the victim to have prevented his or her assault. It is always on the perpetrator to make the right decision and not harm anyone.

 

8. Keep talking about sex and consent with teens as they start having serious relationships. Yeah, they’ll tell you they know it all, but continuing the conversation about healthy consent, respecting our partners, and healthy sexuality shows them how important these themes are to you. It also normalizes talking about consent, so talking openly and respectfully with partners becomes second nature to teens.

 

9. Finally, teens are thirsty for more information about sexual assault, consent, and healthy sexuality. They want to learn, and they will find a way to get information about sex. If you are the one providing that information—lovingly, honestly and consistently—they will carry that information out into the world with them.

 

Having good information encourages kids to be UPstanders, not BYstanders. Not only does the world need more Upstanders, but kids really want to be a force for good. And we can give them the tools to do so.

3

May

Shattering Myths About Sexual Assault, pt. 2

 

Last week, the Safe Teens blog helped break the silence surrounding sexual assault by posting the top five myths regarding sexual violence.  But because sexual violence is a topic many are reluctant to talk about, the myths, unfortunately, do not end with five. Here are five more:

Myth #6: Women routinely make up allegations of sexual violence. In fact, the majority of rapes are never reported to the police and most rapists never spend a day behind bars. Because all victim/survivors of sexual violence face emotional and other barriers to reporting sexual violence (the first of which is recognizing it), many other forms of sexual violence are reported even less.

Myth #7: It’s not sexual violence if s/he was aroused. Arousal is a physiological response to a stimulus. It is in no way an indication that the victim/survivor “wanted it” or “liked it.” In fact, your body is wired to react the same way to consensual and nonconsensual sex. No matter what your body did, if you did not consent, you were sexually assaulted. Again, only yes means yes – and only sometimes (see Myth #5).

Myth #8: Sexual violence is a women’s issue. Sexual violence is a men’s issue not only because the vast majority of rapes are committed by men but also because it partly results from what it means to be a man in our culture. Many believe that as long as boys and men believe they can prove their masculinity through acts of dominance and “getting girls,” women and men and boys and girls will continue to fall victim to sexual violence.

Myth #9: There will always be a few bad apples. It’s important to remember that rapists are made, not born. Men and boys get their beliefs about sex, sexuality and gender from other men in their lives – real, flesh and bone men and pixelated men on screen. One study found that sociologists can distinguish between “rape prone” and “rape free” groups of men in part by these beliefs, demonstrating that culture, perhaps more than anything in nature, contributes to sexual violence.

Myth #10: I can’t do anything about sexual violence. Anti-violence educator Jackson Katz once wrote that “it takes a village to rape a woman” to demonstrate how the blame for sexual violence lies not only with the person perpetrating the violence but also with those complicit with it. Everyone can do something to prevent sexual violence. If you suspect someone you know is a victim/survivor of sexual violence or a perpetrator of sexual violence – or is disrespectful or abusive to girls and women in general – speak up. Talk with them about it or talk with someone who can. Many local and national organizations provide free and confidential instant message-based and phone-based hotlines. Additionally, speak up when others make sexist jokes. Most importantly, perhaps, have the courage to look inward and try to understand how your own attitudes and actions might inadvertently perpetuate sexism and violence, and work toward changing them.

Sexual violence is preventable – and one of the first steps to preventing it is understanding it. When you hear sexual violence myths, point them out to others. With one in four girls and one in six boys sexually assaulted before the age of 18, we can no longer afford to be silent.

25

Apr

Break the Silence, Shatter the Myths About Sexual Assault

 

April is Sexual Assault Awareness Month, and this April, communities across the country are breaking the silence to talk about sexual violence. It’s a topic that affects us all; one in four girls and one in six boys are sexually assaulted before the age of 18. Despite those staggering numbers, many are still reluctant to talk about this sometimes uncomfortable topic. Silence on any topic leads to widespread and numerous myths; this is especially true when it comes to sexual violence.

Here are the top five myths regarding sexual violence:

Myth #1: Sexual violence is rape. While rape is certainly a type of sexual violence, it is not the only type. Sexual violence occurs any time a person is forced, coerced, or manipulated into any unwanted sexual activity. The continuum of sexual violence includes rape, incest, child sexual assault, ritual abuse, date and acquaintance rape, statutory rape, martial or partner rape, sexual exploitation, sexual harassment, exposure and voyeurism.

Myth #2: Rapists lurk in dark alleys. While some rapists do in fact lurk in dark alleys, you are far more likely to be sexually assaulted by someone you know. It is estimated that 70% of all rapes are acquaintance rapes – that is, rapes committed by someone known by the victim/survivor.

Myth #3: Men can’t be raped. In fact, men can be raped – by other men and by women. In January, the U.S. Justice Department broadened the definition of rape to “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.”

Myth #4: S/he asked for it: Wearing a short skirt or drinking too much is not a crime. Walking alone or asking someone to your bedroom is not a crime. Being afraid to say no is not a crime.  Sexual assault is always a crime. Bottom line: No one ever asks to be raped and sexual assault is never justified.

Myth #5: It’s not rape if s/he didn’t say no. While no always means no, only yes can mean yes – and only sometimes. For sex not to be considered sexual assault, both partners must consent – or agree to – sex. Sexual assault can occur even if the victim/survivor didn’t say no and even if s/he says yes if alcohol or coercion or guilt is used to get the victim to say yes when they normally wouldn’t.

Stay tuned for more myths. Sexual violence is preventable – and one of the first steps to preventing it is understanding it. If you or someone you know have or may have experienced sexual violence, seek help. Many local and national organizations provide free and confidential instant message-based and phone-based hotlines.