Where are the Parents?!?

It seems like lately my social media feeds have been inundated with stories on party rape. As appalling as each individual account is, when you do the research, and when you realize how often it happens, then you find out just how awful it really is. As a mom, it’s horrifying. 1 in 5 college women are raped during their college years. I could not find a specific statistic dealing with party rape in high school age kids, however, 44% of rape victims are under 18 years old and 29% of are 12-17 years old! Most of the time, the attacker is someone they know. 73% of all sexual assaults are by a “non-stranger” and 38% of rapists are a friend or acquaintance.

Here’s one final statistic for you. 15 OUT OF 16 RAPISTS WILL GO FREE.  First of all, 61% will never even be reported. Out of the few that are reported, there is a 50.8% chance of arrest. If arrested, there is an 80% chance of prosecution, and out of those, only 50% will get jail time. All of that said, out of the 39% that are reported, only 16% will see the inside of a jail cell. Factoring in the unreported rapes, only 6% (1 out of 16) will do jail time.

So here’s the deal, I would love to say that holding men (boys in some cases) accountable for their actions, putting out consequences severe enough to make them “behave” is the answer, but it’s not. I do believe that is part of the equation, and I definitely think we should be seeing these guys get SO much more than the slap on the wrist (which is currently the case most of the time.) But the truth is, criminals/ predators of any sort aren't typically rule followers, regardless of the consequence.

In addition, There are also a ton of great resources out there now to help victims get through the trauma (which is extensive and varies with each individual). But as a society, we tend to focus more on what the victim wore, or the fact that she may have been drinking, or worse, we accuse them of lying. For some, its just easier to lay blame, than to acknowledge that there truly are monsters out there!

So, everything we’ve discussed so far deals more with the aftermath, but what are we doing to prevent rape? What are we doing to educate our young women (and our young men for that matter)?? WHAT ARE WE DOING AS PARENTS?!? Do you remember when the news channels used to begin the program with “It’s 10pm, Do you know where your child is?” I was still a kid myself at the time and I thought it was funny...how would you not know?? However, I read stories all the time about young teens (Yes 13,14,15) that went to party with much older kids, and many suffered unimaginable consequences, including drunk driving accidents, being drugged, raped or even death. It’s just so scary.

The difficulty with teens is that we HAVE TO give them more freedom, and allow them to make mistakes. Making sure their mistakes don't have life long baggage is the challenge. There are two things we can do as parents to help our kids in the choices they make.

The first the the same thing we should be doing all through their childhood. Consistent Consequences. It’s hard for sure. Half the time you give them a punishment of some sort, you are punishing yourself at the same time. You may miss out on an opportunity because they're grounded, and someone has to stay home with them, or instead of just being able to drop them off with their friends, you may have to stay with them. Here’s the catch - when you don’t follow thru with the consequence, they keep making the same choices....and usually those choices will get progressively worse.

The second is communication. Communication is a huge part of prevention. It let’s our kids know they are important and can come to us - about EVERYTHING. That nothing is “taboo” And that we are here to help them figure out the answers that they don’t have yet. (much better than going to their friends to get the wrong answers!) Talk about sex. Talk about drugs and alcohol, and their effects. Explain to them that there are predators out there that want and need awful things. Talking about all of the scary stuff is how we keep the lines of communication open. They have to understand that in life there are consequences as for every choice we make. Life isn't a fairy tale. There is no magic. No pixie dust you can sprinkle all over your world to make it safer, just because thats how it should be. Talk about all of it. The truth is the conversation is probably harder for us as parents than it is for them.

So where do we start? There are so many things they need to know. The list is endless, so here are a few really important ones to get the talking started.

*They need to know that alcohol is the #1 date rape drug, but that there are others as well. So not to accept drinks (even non-alcoholic drinks) from others, or leave their drinks unattended.

*They need to understand that there are predators out there of all kinds, and all ages. Chances are they will know him, (It isn't usually the “stranger” we told them not to talk to when they were little). So they need to understand the importance of listening to their instincts, and acknowledging when something doesn’t seem or feel right.

*Explain to them that there is safety in numbers, and not to allow themselves to be isolated from the group or from their friends. Ever.

*Talk about setting boundaries and making good choices. They need to think about and decide what they will and wont tolerate from the people in their life. This will make decisions easier, and they will be stronger in standing up to someone trying to cross those boundaries.

In the end, it all comes down to responsibility. As a female, and a parent of a daughter (and a son), I know my safety is my own responsibility. My choices and personal boundaries reflect that. Teaching my children that same responsibility is one of the most important things I may ever do. Someday soon, their choices and their boundaries, that responsibility will be their own.

My children will be prepared... Will yours?

(statistics and info: rainn.org , sarsonline.org, ncpa.org)!