HIgh school counselor: Statistic surprising

Factors may prevent students from reporting sexual assault

At a glance

• Results from the 2007-08 Healthy Kids Colorado survey administered at Moffat County High School showed that 27 percent of the high school's senior girls said they had been raped.

• Carroll Moore, Moffat County High School counselor, said that to her knowledge, only one student came forward last year to say she had been raped.

• Fear of getting law enforcement or parents involved in the case could deter more girls from reporting sexual assault, she said.

— Moffat County High School Counselor Carroll Moore said she was taken aback when she saw the statistic.

According to the 2007-08 Healthy Kids Colorado Survey, 27 percent of the high school's senior girls said they had been raped.

Students "come to us about a lot of other stuff," Moore said.

But, students rarely report instances in which they have been sexually assaulted.

Another school staff member echoed her words.

It's rare for a student to come forward and say he or she has been the victim of sexual assault, said Anngie Sparks, MCHS cheer and dance team head coach.

However, the topic of rape does arise, she said, often through students who describe a situation in which a friend has had sex, sometimes under the influence of alcohol.

Sparks said these types of discussions come up about once every two or three weeks.

In these discussions, it's difficult to tell whether the student is describing the experiences of a friend or her own, Sparks said.

In her experience, girls have never described a situation to her in which they themselves have been raped.

Sparks said she noticed girls reporting their friends' possible encounter with sexual assault increase during the 2006-07 school year, but she added that the number of times students brought up the subject last year remained about the same.

Moore has seen a similar trend.

She said she hears students referring to friends who had sex under the influence of alcohol and later have second thoughts about their decision.

"I hear about that a couple times a month," she said.

However, Moore stopped short of identifying such occurrences as sexual assault.

"It sounds more like stupid behavior (rather than) rape," she said.

Kip Hafey, the MCHS head football coach, said the behaviors that constitute as rape may vary somewhat between students.

"I think, definitely, you would get different definitions (of sexual assault) from kids if you asked them," he said.

Still, he said he believes students know where the line between consensual sex and rape lies.

"Kids know what's right and what's wrong, what they should be doing and what they shouldn't be doing," he said.

Hafey said that, unlike Sparks, he's never had a student approach him with a scenario that could be considered sexual assault.

If that happened, however, he said he would bring the situation to school counselors' attention.

To Moore's knowledge, only one student came to the counseling staff last year to report that she had been raped, she said.

Students may be reluctant to tell the high school counselors they have been raped for fear that their case may be referred to law enforcement, Moore said.

The fear isn't completely unjustified. When a student reports that he or she has been raped, law enforcement usually must get involved, along with the student's parents.

"That may be another reason why (students) don't come and tell us as much," Moore said, "because they don't want their parents to know they went out (and got) so drunk that they couldn't take care of themselves."

The Healthy Kids Colorado Survey indicates that substance abuse factors into the equation. During the 2007-08 school year, nearly 40 percent of the high school boys and about 32 percent of high school girls said they had used drugs or alcohol before their most recent sexual encounter.

"I think the access to alcohol for underage teenagers is out of control in this community," Sparks said.

Still, Sparks said, it isn't the only factor.

"I would never say alcohol and drug use is the reason," she said. "It contributes to the behavior."

Comments

davesanrn 5 years, 8 months ago

"It sounds more like stupid behavior (rather than) rape," she said

Well, there is your first problem, not believing what they say. If they did not consent, then it is a rape. I don't know what the age of consent is here in colorado to be honest, maybe some of our readers familiar with the law do. But if it is sex below the age of consent, that is rape as well. Maybe instead of just saying it is stupid behavior, or discussing what children's definitions of sexual assault is (and I don't recall ever hearing a law anywhere that defined legality by a child's definition), or saying well kids will be kids, maybe we should be addressing the issue, enforcing the law, setting the example. Or, just say, as this article implies, the heck with it. Kids do stupid stuff, most of them survive, the world keeps turning, I'm more worried about the price of real estate, or which nut job gets elected.

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grannyrett 5 years, 8 months ago

Kip says that "kids know what's right and what's wrong, what they should be doing and what they shouldn't be doing." WHAT???? They are kids! If they knew what they should and shouldn't be doing, if they knew what's right and what's wrong, then why do we have so much underage drinking? Why are there so many teen pregnancies. Kids, are just that. KIDS! The attitude to those in a position to help our kids up at the high school just astounds me. You are not there to judge whether it's caused by drunkenness or not. You are there to help these kids. Someone needs to do their job. If I spank my kid and leave a bruise, you'll call the cops. If someone rapes a kid, it's just someone crying wolf? OMG!

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Craig_gal 5 years, 8 months ago

ya know what! i am now finally able to address this article. OMG, OMG, O.H. M.Y. G.O.D. I hope that the contributors to this article sleep well tonight because obviously they are out of touch with reality and in their own little dream world. WOW, I would suggest have a training work shop with victims advocacy or other groups BUT advocacy actually contributed to this nonsense. WOW

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