School Shamed For Sex-Ed Assignment That Blames Victims For Rape

Image license CC0 Creative Commons by prettysleepy1 via Pixabay

A Wisconsin School District is apologizing after a controversial classroom assignment involving sexual assault education caused an uproar among parents.

On December 17, students at Bradford High School were shown a video depicting a sexual assault. Then they were asked to explain how the female victim could have prevented the attack, Fox6 reports.

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A sample question asked:

“What could have Melissa have done differently to avoid her sexual assault? Provide at least four examples.”

The assignment wound up being pulled by December 20, according to the Kenosha Unified School District. School officials have since apologized for placing the blame on victims of sexual assault, Raw Story reports.

“We live in a culture that does blame victims for the hurt and the harm in their lives,” noted Carmen Pitre, president of Sojourner Family Peace Center in Milwaukee. “Our message at Sojourner — and our partner agencies — is that it’s never your fault.”

She said that while it’s a good thing that the district is educating students on sexual and domestic violence, but the core of the question is definitely misplaced.

“The first question could have been ‘What do you think leads a person to use force and to believe force is appropriate to use?'” Pitre said.

She added that boys and girls need to be taught how to deal successfully with relationships.

Educational psychologist Kathryn Stamoulis noted in a 2015 article for Psychology Today that while some rapists are sociopaths who care little for their victims, the proper education will teach most men and boys to think before harming someone.

As such, they need to be taught that sexual harassment of any kind is wrong. Catcalls and other unwarranted comments about someone’s body aren’t compliments and they aren’t funny. Men and boys need to be taught that these kinds of actions can make a girl or young woman feel threatened and can also lead to anxiety and body consciousness.

Stamoulis notes that if people condemn sexual harassment it will send a message that sexual violence won’t be tolerated. But there’s a wider range of issues that need to go along with that. Students need to be educated about consent laws, especially since it’s illegal to have sex with a minor and the age of consent varies from state to state. And all of these laws mandate that it’s never okay to have sex with someone who is intoxicated, asleep, or mentally disabled. Boys and men need to learn that “no” really means “no,” and that no one is “entitled” to sex.

“No one is ever entitled to sex with someone. That includes a spouse, boyfriend, or girlfriend. You don’t ‘earn’ sex from being a ‘nice guy’ or spending money on a date. Sex is a mutual decision that both parties make on an ongoing basis,” she writes.

So while it’s a good thing that schools teach girls and young women how to avoid being sexually assaulted, they need to do so without blaming victims. And now is the time is to start empowering boys, helping them to learn how to treat girls and young women.

Pitre noted that knowledge really is power.

“We need to give young people information that helps them prepare for relationships and how to be in relationships in a healthy way and what to do if somebody hurts you,” Pitre said.

In a statement, the Kenosha Unified School District said it plans “a comprehensive review of the health curriculum covering relationships and dating violence.”

You can find out more in the video below.

 

Featured image license CC0 Creative Commons by prettysleepy1 via Pixabay