What Do We Say To Our Sons About Rape?


Since SPEAK was published in 1999, I’ve had countless conversations about rape. I’ve talked to survivors and rapists, counselors, police, teachers, librarians, and teenagers… lots of teenagers.

But I’ve rarely talked with the parents of boys about this.

Why is that?

I suspect it’s because most people are decent and they cannot imagine their boy committing rape. It’s easier (and emotionally safer) to think of rapists as that stranger waiting in the bushes with a gun.

They are wrong.

A whooping 73% of sexual assaults are committed by someone that the victim knows.

44% of sexual assault victims are under age 18. 

If parents shy away from talking to their sons about rape, they are failing their sons.

I’ve never met a teenage boy who knew that when a girl is under the influence of alcohol or drugs she is not capable of giving informed consent to sexual activity. Teaching our sons about what sexual assault is and all of the reasons they shouldn’t do it makes the world a safer place for everyone.

(I talked about this more in this article.)

If you think it’s awkward talking to your son about this at the kitchen table, imagine how much harder it would be if he were in jail.

Here is how one mother started the conversation with her son about consent and rape. And  the editors of The Good Men Project wrote a guide to teaching kids of all ages about consent.

(Do you have other resources to share?)

Talk to your boys. Talk to your whole family. And then please make a $10 donation to RAINN, the best organization for victims of sexual assault. RAINN helps victims turn into survivors.



When we speak up, we make the world a better place.

One Reply to “What Do We Say To Our Sons About Rape?”

  1. A couple weeks ago, I stumbled across a 27-second video about “how to handle drunk girls passed out on your couch.”

    At first blush, the message seemed helpful. Then it flooded me with questions.
    1. If someone felt compelled to create this video, how many unspeakable crimes are happening in the dating world?
    2. If the female is that incapacitated, should she be taken to the hospital?
    3. If the female dies from aspiration, could the male be held legally responsible for her death if he supplied the alcohol?

    Despite the questions, it seems like a great place to launch a dialog with a male.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.