Last week we went over to RappTap to do a training on sexual coercion and exploitation of minors, otherwise known as statutory rape. This type of sexual assault has a tendency to be overlooked or more importantly, pointedly ignored. Why do people look the other way? Why is that so dangerous to out adolescents? Lets look at the facts:
Statutory Rape in Virginia:
3056 births to teens ages 14 and 15 from 2000 to 2005 (assumed conception at age 13 & 14)
71% of information for father’s age not given
63% of the cases where father’s age was known could be estimated to be a felony at time of conception
According to a survey of men 18-29:
69% knew an adult that had sex with a minor
51% of those adults knew 5 or more people who had sex with a minor
Beyond the statistics, lets look a little farther in to what we know about adolescent development. Studies point out two things to me that seem very important to know about how teen brains are changing. First, we know they are still changing, the stuff they are learning is being hardwired in. Second we know that they have a tendency to use the instinctual part of their brain more than their logical part. Who would have guessed teenagers are more impulsive and act more on feelings than logic? So let me put the issue in a new light for you.
Teens who are in a coercive relationship are getting imbalanced relationships hardwired in their little brains for life. A teen has parents, school, little freedom, little money,little authority in comparison with an adult who has freedom, money, maybe a place and a car, a job. The adult automatically has the upper hand, the power, and we all know violence is about power and control. So these kids have it burned in to their grey matter that is how relationships work, that they are lower on the scale than their partner. Then we wonder why these same teens a repeatedly victimized throughout their life. Or worse we blame the youngsters who act on impulse or who do not have the self-esteem or skill set to see the problems and manipulations used to coerce them. We need to stop blaming the victims and start addressing the perpetrators, or at very least, stop looking the other way.