Teen rape is a serious, significant crime that often goes understated because both parties tend to be under age, not adults, and are still seen as developing teens. As a result, the incident has for years been written off has teenagers behaving badly and victim teenagers putting themselves in avoidable, bad situations. In reality a teen being raped is no different than that of an adult. It involves a sexual violation against the will of the victim, and the instance frequently has more to do with taking control and getting revenge for rejection than it does sexual desire.
The number of teen rapes that occur are likely more than are actually reported. The idea of being raped is extremely disturbing and shattering, and most teen victims have an initial response of not wanting anyone to know something has occurred. As a result, for years many victims kept their attacks secret, only to discuss them with friends or family much later in life, instead dealing with the impact and psychological effects shaping their lives and relationships for decades.
The particular problem with teen rape is often the same as adult rape. In most cases, the attacker is someone known to the victim. Predominantly most cases involve teen girls attacked by a male teen or young adult. And in many cases it either involves being a party with alcohol or being alone with a partner in a situation where escape is not easily possible. Approximately 44 percent of rape cases annually involve a victim who is under 18 years of age, and that figure based on annual statistics measures out to be approximately 107,500 cases annually on a national level. Clearly, its a behavior pattern than society is still allowing to occur with more frequency than some known and stated crimes that immediately put people behind bars.
Problems with Identification
As mentioned earlier, one of the biggest problems with stopping teen rape is that the victims frequently don’t want anyone to know what’s happened. They will keep the matter secret from family and friends, hoping the whole issue goes away and disappears in the past. While they may very well know their rapists and still see them daily, they will avoid contact and any further instance that they can be exposed again. Unfortunately, the attacker will get away with the attack without any further ramifications as a result of the secrecy.
The second big problem is that many communities still brush off teen rape as teenagers getting out of control. Boys are treated as being mischievous and typical for their age in terms of getting occasionally out of control. Girls who are victims are treated as receiving some kind of just dessert because they allowed themselves to get into the situation in the first place. If they had stayed conservative, not gone to parties, not gotten drunk, or not worn provocative clothes, the attack wouldn’t have happened. This double-standard has existing for decades, and it’s the reason why teen rapists can get away with crimes that as adults they would be put in jail for five to ten years.
Third, the teen environment provides no support for victims. They are made fun of or tabled “sluts” by their peers. Instead of getting support for being hurt or attacked, many teens turn on the victim can state she’s making things up to smear a well-liked male teen. No surprise, the victim withdraws, being attacked from those whom she thought were friends and supporters.
The first and foremost step any parent can do is to make sure he or she knows whom their teen is with when out and about. Especially in relationships or in the evening when the teen may be going to a party or with friends, knowing all involved is critical to narrowing down risks quickly. It doesn’t hurt for male friends of a teen to know that a parent is not necessarily their “buddy” and is keeping an eye on them around the parent’s teen. That subtle warning can often make a potential attacker think twice if there’s going to be some kind of potential ramification dealing with a proactive parent.
Secondly, communication with teens is also important for parents to be able to provide any kind of protection. If there is no communication channel, a parent can’t possibly know what’s going on in the life of that teen. Teens are still children growing up to be adults, and they will still look for support if its available from their parents. What they don’t want is judgment instead of help. So communication often has to be a balance with a teenager of advice, direction and guidance on the one hand and still some control on the other, but usually the formula starts to lean more and more towards the guidance side as the teenager gets older.
Third, teaching a teen about life’s aspects, both good and bad, are critical for them to understand why some people shouldn’t be associated with. When they can see with their own eyes why some characters are likely not good news, or what kind of situations can end up being bad news, teens frequently protect themselves by avoiding those situations more often than if they had to learn the hard way why.
Teen Rape Response
When a teen rape does occur, the last thing a parent should do is start demanding 20 questions why something occurred. The teen has already been attacked and is in mental shock. A parent trying to rationalize the whole thing is the wrong response to have. Instead, the teen needs to be provided medical care as much as possible as soon as possible. A rape can have far more ramifications than just embarrassment. The teen may have been made pregnant, for example. She also could have been exposed to a sexually-transmitted disease that won’t manifest until weeks later. And, aside from the physical impacts, the teen will likely be suffering a significant amount of mental injury, trauma, and hurt as well as fear. All of these things need to be addressed with support and counseling, as well a from a parent’s support of just being there while the teen recovers.
Unfortunately, in the midst of all the above, the police need to be involved as well. A rape crime report is a serious matter and much of the information needed in a case is only available in the first few hours or days from the incident. This information is critical in not just identifying the attacker but building a viable, solid case against the attacker for the crime of rape. Remember, just because an attacker rapes a teen doesn’t mean that he will be automatically guilt. The police and prosecutor’s office have to build a case to convince a jury of that status before the attacker can be convicted. This process will involve a lot of uncomfortable questions about what exactly happened, where and when. Many rape victims feel attacked a second time by hundreds of questions and testing of the person’s character by the criminal justice process. It is an ugly process, but it also necessary to make a rape crime charge stick.
No one should ever be allowed to minimize the suffering of a teen rape victim. This is the kind of response that allows this kind of crime to continue popping up generation after generation. The attitude of “boys will be boys” and “loose girls get what the deserve” are old ways of thinking that have no application in a modern society that treats rape as a crime. Just because the attacker is a teen and the victim is a teen does nothing to lessen the crime and impact and damage. So the response to teen rape should be the same as that when it involves adults as well.
Unfortunately, even in today’s world, teen rape still continues cause a large amount of debate on how seriously it should be treated. The recent Steubenville case is a prime example of how a community can still be torn apart being on the side of the victim or being on the side of the attackers, both being teenagers and under 18. However, given what the crime of rape is, the answer should be obvious for all involved. Teen rape is a crime and should always be treated as such in every instance.