Monday, March 14, 2011

Landmark School Program: Police Urge 'Responsible Reporting' of Rape Where Girls are Told to Report Rape, Warned of Consequences of False Claims

In east England, it was reported here, Southend police are prepared to kick off a pilot program at four schools where officers will urge 13 and 14-year-old girls to report sex offences they may have been subjected to, and also to warn them of the consequences of making false allegations of rape.

The details of the group were revealed in the quarterly report of Essex’s Chief Constable Jim Barker-McCardle:

“The Sexual Safety Awareness Group has been set up to deliver a consistent message to young people regarding sexual safety. The agreed aims of the group include promoting sensible choices and responsible reporting.

"Support services include a referral to teenage pregnancy counsellors for teenagers who are engaging in, or considering engaging in, sexual activity.

“Responsible reporting is about encouraging young people to report acts of sexual violence against them, whilst at the same time explaining the consequences of making false reports to police and other services.”

"Responsibility" in reporting is the key term for this program. 

First, there is a responsibility to report rape. Too often, the persons who dominate the public discourse about rape are reluctant to urge young women to report their victimization. Instead of telling young women that they provide an invaluable public service to other would-be victims when they help get a rapist off the streets, they act as if rape is a "different" kind of crime -- that it is too awful, and that its victims are entirely too sensitive -- for this message to be related. Instead of telling young women to report, they insist, for instance, that statutes of limitations for sexual assault be lengthened or eliminated altogether, thus signaling that rape victims shouldn't be expected to report quickly. Treating rape as a "different" kind of crime, loaded with cultural baggage, is contrary to a stated goal of feminists who led the rape revolution. Sadly, that attitude is all too prevalent today.

Second, at long last, young women are to be told the entire rape story; specifically, they will be told that "responsible" reporting includes truthful reporting. 

They should be told of the harm to innocent young men from false rape claims, and they should be told that every rape lie diminishes the integrity of every legitimate rape claim.

Police should also include young men in the program. Young men should be taught about about the "regret asymmetry" that separates the genders. Specifically, young people generally do not understand that women experience much greater after-the-fact regret than men do. Sometimes feelings of regret are translated into feelings of "being used," and sometimes feelings of "being used" are misinterpreted or purposefully misconstrued as "rape."

In any event, the Southend police are to be applauded for this very honest attempt to deal with rape.