Monday, May 14, 2012

Guest Post: Criminal or Clueless? When Sex Means Jail

Photo via NorthUmbria Police
“Can you identify the person who allegedly raped you?”

“Yes your Honor,” says the girl. “He’s right there.”

She points and all eyes land on the pimply teenager, flanked by power suits—clearly his attorneys. The boy drops his head and a tear slides down his nose.

Could this be your son?

As a mom of a grown daughter, I cringe at the crime called date rape. (By law, it is stripped of its condition and simply called rape.) It’s dirty and traumatizing and ugly, no matter its circumstance.

As the mom to two teenaged boys, I cringe at the crime for different reasons. Perpetrators in 20% of the 182,000 rapes reported by girls between 12 and 17 in 2008 were intimately known (spouse, boyfriend, girlfriend) by the victims. That’s a staggering number. Someone’s doing the raping.

Could it be my son? Could it be yours?

It’s shocking to consider, isn’t it? But can we close our eyes to the possibility? 

Do my boys really know the difference between grinding on the dance floor when nothing but a little skimpy cloth separates it and the real thing? 

Do they understand that action isn’t always invitation? 

Can they decipher between a No that means Yes and a No that means No?

And have I ever had a conversation with either of them that goes beyond the birds and the bees and don’t do it ’til you’re ready and make sure you are protected?

It would be easy to sit in that courtroom and vilify the pimply boy from the example above—he should have known better. Where were his parents?

But hello. I’m raising boys. Teen boys. And sometimes, despite all the lectures and lessons and sharing, there are days when they lose their feet on the way to tie their shoes.

To think they will make the connection between crime and passion in the heat of a hormonal moment when  sex, even aggressive sex, is touted on every show, every video and every song might be asking a bit much from their construction site called a brain. When they receive images of nude classmates on their cell phones (because 1 in 6 teens between 12 and 17 have received them), why on earth would  they all of a sudden realize, when every sign says Go!, that what they are doing is a crime?

I’m just sayin’.

Should boys be given a carte blanche pass then? No way. I’m a firm believer in responsibility and accountability.

What I am saying is that while it seems they should know better, we really ought to make sure they do.

I’d much prefer to stick to informational sex talks. I’d much rather tell my boys to just not go there and have them comply.

But statistics force me to address my Pollyanna wishes. I need to address these issues in my home, with  my boys, before an officer knocks on our front door.

Uncomfortable? Absolutely. 

But who ever said raising boys would be comfortable?

Carrie Schmeck is a features and business copywriter in northern California. She has 2 boys, ages 15 and 18, and a 22-year-old daughter. See more of her work on her website, Bizziwriter.


  1. What a great post! Date rape is a serious topic that moms don't always think about (unless it's dear daughter going on the date), and dads might (dare I say it?) be just as clueless as the boys. I agree it is our responsibility as parents to do our best to teach our kids how to treat each other, and that includes dealing with the tough topics.

  2. A great post. As the mom of three girls, I especially appreciate the mom-of-boys perspective. Too many of my friends will say they are glad to have boys because then they don't have to worry about. I've never understood taking that stance. Would it really make you happy to have your son accused of rape, someone who did rape, or someone who got a girl pregnant? I think not.

    Thanks for raising good boys. I hope my girls find them! ;-)

    1. Tia -- No promises on how they turn out. But I'm trying! ;)

      It's interesting how the mom-of-boys things has shaped my perspective too. While I wouldn't want my teen daughter (if I had one) to get pregnant, at least I would likely be involved in the decision making. If one of my boys gets someone pregnant, he (and I) will have very little say in what happens. Definitely something I'll be talking about with my boys as they get older!

    2. All we can do is our best. ;-)

      Good point. There are challenges whether you have boys or girls. The best say a boy can have is PRIOR to getting the girl pregnant (wearing a condom, etc). Same for girls.

      Wishing us both success raising our children!

  3. Thanks for the comments, Ladies. We like to think we treat our boys and girls the same but, the truth is, we don't. And with texting, we are even more out of the loop. When my daughter was a teen, I knew her giddiness when someone asked her out. I got to be part of the process. My boys say "Later. I'm going to hang out with some friends." Half the time, I don't even know they are pursuing a girl.

    1. I know! I think we (as a society) lost a lot when we moved from the family phone in the kitchen to cell phones in our pockets.

  4. Great topic! Date rape is an awful thing to think about happening to your kids. Shameless promo, a friend of a friend has started a new company ( that creates cups and straws that will change color if the date rape drug is slipped in your drink. Hopefully they make it to market kids are heading off to college soon!