How do we teach young men about rape?

Traditionally, the taboo surrounding rape meant that it was a ‘hidden’ crime that was seldom talked about. Today, thankfully, we are a lot more open about it. But many of these conversations are focused at women, providing them with advise on how to be safe and careful. Should we really be putting the onus on victims to moderate their behaviour?

Some experts are saying that rather than making rape and assault a “woman’s problem”, we should turn the dialogue around and look at more ways to teach men about rape. Whilst it’s true that there are rare occasions where women rape men (or other women), on the whole, most rapists are males.

Luckily, we are increasingly seeing a shift in society’s attitudes towards rape education. People are focussing more on how we can teach boys and young men to respect other people’s boundaries when it comes to sex. Parents have long been teaching their girls about how to minimise their chances of being assaulted, but today more and more parents are starting to teach their boys about the importance of consent.

Unfortunately, harmful myths about rape still dominate too many discussions on the topic. We should be teaching our sons that it doesn’t matter what a woman is wearing, how much she has had to drink or how many sexual partners she’s had – it does not give them or anyone else the justification to assault her. Similarly, we must teach our boys that if a woman asks to stop in the middle of intercourse and her request is not heeded, this still classifies as rape. No means no, and rape is rape. There is no fine line or grey in-between: rape is black and white.

If you talk to your children about sexual assault, explain to them the role that alcohol plays in many rape cases. Some men become sexually aggressive when they are drunk, or are so intoxicated that they do not think rationally; while women are at increased risk of being sexually assaulted when they’ve been drinking.

Sexual assault is not an easy thing to talk about with your kids. But it’s incredibly important.