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Talk About Date Rape With Your Teen

by Shadra Bruce

In this day and age, we all have the “good touch/bad touch” talk with our kids when they are young. And, most of us grit our teeth and make it through the uncomfortable but necessary sex talk with our adolescents. I worry, though, that many parents either gloss over or completely skip the conversation about date rape.

Whether you don’t want to think it could happen to your teen or you simply don’t know how to approach it, date rape goes without discussion. You never think anything like that is going to happen to your son or daughter – and yes, your son can easily be a victim as well. Date rape is a real issue with serious ramifications and as much as you would hate to admit it, if your teens have alone time with peers, they are at risk.

Date rape is defined as a forcible sexual activity against a person’s will by someone they know. It can be difficult to look your teen’s special friend and see someone capable of rape. While most probably are not, it’s a risk you don’t want to take. Even though your daughter’s boyfriend seems like a perfectly sweet young man, he might be trying to coerce your daughter to do things she really does not want to do. She might feel obligated to do favors for her boyfriend, and it is up to you to make certain she knows that she owes her boyfriend nothing physical.

How do you help keep your teen safe? (No, you can’t just lock them up until they’re 25).

Talk to your teens about the excuses given by a partner to guilt or force them into sex, sometimes by saying “everyone else is doing it” or “if you love me you will.” Help them understand that just because someone buys them dinner or gifts or takes them out on a date (or to prom) does not put them in debt for an act of a sexual nature.

Talk to both boys and girls about respecting others’ boundaries. It’s a much less talked about issue, but girls can be the aggressors who force boys into unwanted sexual situations too. Just because it is less common does not make it any less of a problem. Date rape does not restrict itself to opposite sex partners either; same sex partners are at risk, too.

Have a conversation with your teens. Make sure they know that their bodies are theirs alone, and that they don’t owe anyone anything (not even if she buys him gifts or he brings her flowers). Encourage honesty with your teens and do take the time to get to know their friends.

Talk explicitly with your teen about the danger of getting into a car or going somewhere with a boy or girl they do not necessarily trust. Even if you don’t think there’s even the slimmest possibility of your child drinking, make sure you talk to your teens about keeping even their non-alcoholic drinks safe. They should never accept a drink that they did not pour themselves, because date rape drugs are almost always delivered by being slipped into the drink of an unknowing target.

Reassure your teens that if they do end up in a sticky situation that you will come to get them – no questions asked. Discuss the term rape with your teens as well. It is not a word that should be used lightly. Boys have been wrongly accused of rape and the repercussions can be just as overwhelming for the falsely accused as it is for legitimate victims.

Your teen may feel embarrassed or uncomfortable having the conversation. You might feel the same way, but don’t let embarrassment or discomfort prevent you from having a discussion that could protect your teens. Date rape is highly under-reported and it is common in teenagers and young adults. Anyone can be a victim in any situation. Give your teens the knowledge they need to protect themselves.

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