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Ages & Stages

Every girl, whether she’s in secondary school, college or on her own, should know how to protect herself against date rape, also known as acquaintance rape. Although the incidence of sexual assaults against young men is underreported to police, date rape is overwhelmingly committed by males against females, and so this section is addressed to parents of teenage daughters.

In a national poll conducted by the Kaiser Permanante healthmaintenance organization, one in seven girls aged fourteen to seventeen said that a date had tried to force them to have sex. Two in five reported knowing at least one girl who’d been hit or beaten by her boyfriend. Rape is an act of violence, not sexual desire.

What can make acquaintance rape doubly traumatizing is that it is difficult to prove in a court of law. The sexual assault almost always takes place in private, with no eyewitnesses—and, many times, no signs of physical force. Rather, the rapist uses his physical advantage and the threat of violence to intimidate the woman into submission. If the victim presses charges, and many do not, the case turns on the word of the accuser versus the word of the accused. She says, I was raped against my will. He says, no, the sex was consensual.

This is a nightmarish scenario to have to contemplate. If you heeded your protective instinct, you’d probably chaperone every date or at least follow several car lengths back in an inconspicuous rental. Alas, you can’t; you’re learning to let go, remember?

The best that parents can do to ensure their daughter’s safety is to talk to her about the types of dating situations that are most likely to snowball out of control and therefore should be avoided. Review with her the following tips for making wise decisions about the people she dates, the places she goes, and how she behaves.   

 

Last Updated
5/11/2013
Source
Caring for Your Teenager (Copyright © 2003 American Academy of Pediatrics)
The information contained on this Web site should not be used as a substitute for the medical care and advice of your pediatrician. There may be variations in treatment that your pediatrician may recommend based on individual facts and circumstances.