Ohio Case Offers a Teachable Moment About Rape

Monday, January 07, 2013

The Door in Soho, a teen center and health clinic, sex education, sex ed (Stephen Nessen/WNYC)

The case of a teenage girl gang-raped at a party in Steubenville, Ohio shocked much of America. But when a video released after the initial news reports showed one of the teens joking about the brutal attack, outrage deepened.

The football players accused in the attack will have their day in court, but national attention directed toward Steubenville won't solve America's sexual assault problem in a day. How can the culture around sexual violence in this country change? And how can we better educate the youth in order to change it?

Vicki Banyard, professor of psychology at the University of New Hampshire, says the first step toward any real change has to be a commitment to talk about sexual behavior openly.


Vicki Banyard

Produced by:

Joe Hernandez

Comments [10]


I agree with Ryan that these young men should have been charged as adults. Does charging them in the Juvenile court system say that this crime wasn't important enough to be in the 'adult' system? I teach in a rural area and it's concerning to me that many young men exhibit no morals and have no respect for women. Many of them attend church and will speak to you about their Christian beliefs.

Mar. 17 2013 04:37 PM
Benjamin from Newark, NJ

Why isn't this topic getting the light of day on air? This is the only article on WNYC discussing the topic!

Jan. 08 2013 10:45 AM
unkerjay from Puget Sound, WA


Change is best characterized by substantial, signficant, consequential ACTIONS.

What we will no longer tolerate will be known by what we DO not just what we say.

If we say much, but, do little, that makes it self evident just how much we care, how much we value the changes we are so willing to talk about.

My senators are Patty Murray and Maria Cantwell. I'm pretty sure where they stand on this issue. I'll write my representative and tell him. I'll write the president and tell him. I've put out my own petition at the White House on a separate subject, as it stands, it has a grand total of TWO signature (one of them my own), so I'm not so sure I place faith in the ability of a petition to motivate change. NOt when the Death Star, the Westboro Baptists, and the White House beer recipe are so far ahead of me.

I'll put my money into causes that support what I value. And I'll put my efforts there too where I think it will make a difference.

I value women's rights here AND abroad. Women have taken to the streets in India (right up there with Saudi Arabia in its treatment of women) to say "No More". Perhaps it's time once again for women to take to the streets in similar numbers and put law enforcement, local and national legislature's on notice.

What it takes to be safe in one's person, in one's home, on one's streets, in public places should be DONE. It should not be a political football subject to the whims of partisan politics and lobbyists with more of an eye on profits than well-being.

Your right to do, to think, to be whatever you want, STOPS at the point where my safety is compromised without my knowledge or consent without sufficient legal recourse. It is not entirely up to ME. Neither is it just a matter of cherry picking the risks.

Safe and secure doesn't mean better armed. It means not having to be in a civilized society. At least that's what we claim to be.

That's what I hope for and am willing to work for.

Jan. 08 2013 07:21 AM
unkerjay from Puget Sound, WA

It's not enough to educate, to legislate. It's not enough even to have regular open discussions about sexuality, who we are, what we do, why.

All that is good and useful, but, just as with violence, if it is going to change, if there is a difference to be made, we have to change who we are. Awareness alone isn't enough. Honesty alone isn't enough.

Changing means making tough choices, not just going after the low hanging fruit. As a society, we need to show ourselves some "tough love". We need to strip away the veneer of who we think we are and take an unflinching look at who we are. And if that's truly not who we want to be, we need to change - fundamentally, or we need to accept that that's who we are, or if now who we are, who we are comfortable with being and stop making excuses or pretending otherwise.

Jan. 08 2013 06:38 AM
unkerjay from Puget Sound, WA

"a commitment to talk about sexual behavior openly"


Whatever happened to the ambitions of Kinsey, or Shere Hite?

Let's introduce a familiar lexicon:

"Instagram", "sexting", "tumblr", and other such expanding sources of sexual awareness.

Apparently, "provisions of the law that would have expanded protections for undocumented immigrants, Native Americans and LGBT victims of violence"


means that we care, just that we're somewhat selective.

Maybe when women hold up half the congress that will change.

Jan. 08 2013 06:21 AM
mollypot from Indiana, PA

Please sign all these petitions so they are all charged: - Power and prestige does not allow you to violate people.







Jan. 07 2013 06:54 PM
Linda Wolf from Bainbridge Island

This is exactly what we do on a weekly basis and train other adults to do on a weekly basis - meet with teens in a confidential, safe space, a teen talking circle, and teach teens how to listen (how to use Compassionate Listening skills) to each other without judgment, but in a powerful focused way so that they can hear themselves and come to their own wisdom... it is critical to listen to a teen and have teens hear each other, so that they can get below the superficial masks they wear so as not to be rejected by their peers - so that they feel they belong, first and foremost belong to the human race, no matter what they have done or how they feel about themselves or how they have behaved up til now. When human beings, and in this case, teens, feel empathy and compassion for themselves and each other, their behavior toward themselves and others changes. All change has to come from the inside out. In teen circles everyone starts where they're at and then connects their issues with the issues going on in the world and begin to see how everything is interconnected...it is at this point that a young person can begin to feel empowered that not only can they change but they can affect change in the world. They can stop feeling disempowered and dissociated - despair soon melts as they feel where their true passion comes from and begin to DO SOMETHING. These teens grow into adults who have even more power to make the changes and support the movement for the kind of systemic change that can help shift the whole system into one of power-with, partnership and cooperation based on values that were engendered and formed as youth. We know this is true, because Teen Talking Circles is 20 years old. Those teens we met with in 1993 are now holding circles and leading circles of their own...

Jan. 07 2013 05:12 PM
Jordan Bowen from Brooklyn, NY

My generation (those of us born in the 70s and 80s) grew up with horror films, shocking violence, graphic depictions of sexual violence in TV, movies, and video games, and we're probably the least violent, least likely to be sexually active generation in a long time. To blame cultural depravity on works of fiction is just lazy thought, and you do sound like the Family Research Council when you express it.

Jan. 07 2013 03:53 PM
Engracia Gill from Austin TX

I am a psychotherapist in private practice. I talk to my teen clients and young adult clients about this topic all the time. I was frustrated with Dr. Banyard today who kept redirecting the role of movies and tv shows away from the debate on the show. Her research may not show that tv and movies play a roleand she should then address the limitations of her research. Let' s have common sense here! And shield our youth from violent and pornographic material! It is also clear that the visual impact of sexual violence impacts our midbrain where impulse control gets mediated by top down control from our frontal cortex. Let' s also talk about how instant gratification of midbrain drives is enhanced by social media and tge internet and the negative impact on our ability to exercise our frontal cortex with these tools hat give us instant access and an illusion of privacy...

Jan. 07 2013 01:03 PM
Ryan from Boston

I think it's always important (and not mentioned when anyone in mainstream media talks about this case) to note that while two young men have been charged, it's in the JUVENILE court system. And that plays an important role in the rape culture in the U.S.

Jan. 07 2013 09:43 AM

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