According to Brown University , “90% of all campus rapes occur when alcohol has been used by either the assailant or the victim.” Alcohol reduces inhibitions, and parties involving teenage drinking can encourage young men to engage in sexual assaults they might otherwise imagine, but not enact. Alcohol is also used, intentionally or without planning, to reduce a victim’s ability to resist sexual assault. When it is intentionally administered in order to facilitate assault, alcohol is considered a date rape drug, and its use as such compounds the criminal offenses with which an assailant may be charged. Even if it is not administered intentionally for this purpose, most states consider that an intoxicated person is not capable of giving meaningful consent to sexual activity, and thus consider sex with an intoxicated person to be rape.
Parents of teenagers should, therefore, educate their children on both aspects of alcohol’s role in sexual assault. Teenagers should understand that getting someone drunk in order to facilitate sexual access, or even engaging in sexual behavior with an intoxicated person, is a serious crime--one that could haunt them for their lifetimes. Parents of teenagers should also help their children understand how to minimize their risk of being sexually assaulted.
Contrary to popular myth, most rape victims are not attacked by strangers in dark alleys. Most victims are sexually assaulted by dates or other acquaintances, most often inside homes. Children and teenagers are more vulnerable than are adults; by the time they are 18, one in four girls and one in six boys will have been sexually assaulted. Parties, particularly those involving teenage drinking, increase the risk of sexual assault so dramatically that high schools and universities across the country have developed special awareness programs to educate their students.
How, then, can parents of teenagers teach their children to reduce their risk? These tips can help:
•Teenagers should stay sober, and avoid parties involving teenage drinking.
•Teenagers should bring their own soda or bottled water to parties, and keep the container with them--and covered or closed at all times--to prevent the addition of date rape drugs.
•Teenagers should use the buddy system, checking on their friends frequently at parties and leaving only with the group with whom they arrived.
•Parents should confirm party invitations and parameters, including provisions for supervision, with other adults before allowing their children to attend.
Parents of teenagers can and should obtain more information by contacting their local sexual assault crisis center or by doing an Internet search with the keywords “date rape.” The risks associated with teenage drinking are not limited to the ill health effects of alcohol consumption.