Teaching our youth not to use the term ‘rape’ carelessly….
A recent article by a high school student addressed how teens are inappropriately using the term rape (see Article). According to Mari Cohen, the student who wrote the article for her high school in Ann Arbor, Michigan,
“The word ‘rape’ is generally used by high school students either negatively, to represent mental or physical injury or damage (“Wow, that math test totally raped me”) or positively, to represent beating, winning or acing something (“Oh, yeah, I just raped that math test”) (Cohen, 2012).
When teens use the word rape in one of the above context it is distorting the seriousness of this crime and has the potential to make our efforts to educate youth about rape and sexual assault more challenging. It also distorts what we are trying to teach and promote about the language and behavior of healthy relationships.
So what can we do? We can be aware of how language is being used among our teens. We can have a conversation (not a lecture) with our teens about the importance of not distorting the meaning of sex crimes. Perhaps in the language of our youth ask them if someone using the word rape in this manner isn’t acting like a Wanksta (i.e, Wanksta – a person who is trying to be cool but fails). Most importantly we can ask our youth what is their rolein promoting awareness and prevention about rape and sexual assault and the language and meaning of respectful and healthy relationships.