Friday, September 28, 2007

When school violence goes unreported . . . has it really happened?

The Seattle Times published a story yesterday about violent incidents at various Seattle schools that go unreported to the police. This article mentions that over the last 2 years, over 1,000 incidents that should have been reported were not. They included "assaults, threats, robberies and weapons possession." The four instances cited as assault examples in the story, however, were all sexual assaults.

Click here to read the article.

It's a story I hear too often. A parent calls me, asking about self-defense because their daughter was pushed against the locker and groped by a male classmate (the majority of the calls I get because of specific incidents are from parents of girls). Sure I can teach the girl effective self-defense skills, but I reiterate to the parent what they already know: that they will have to be prepared to assertively advocate for their child's safety with the school. And, if necessary, bring in outside parties such as the police. The self-defense skills I teach are only the beginning.

Monday, September 24, 2007

Post-Dog Days at the Market

Last Sunday at the farmers' market I saw this really cute puppy. Well, a big puppy, but not yet full grown. On the other end of the puppy's leash was a young (but full grown adult) woman (cute, but not as cute as the pup). Funny thing, though, is that there are signs all over the entrances to the market to please leave dogs outside the market perimeter. The dog owner seemed oblivious. Another patron, a somewhat older woman, passed by and must have pointed those signs out to the dog owner because the owner became belligerent. I could see her physically puff up as she demanded of the other woman's back a justification. Did the dog bother her personally? What business was it of hers anyway? Her dog wasn't causing any trouble! As she loudly complained to the ignoring crowd, she just happened to walk to the edge of the market and out onto the street (where she continued her complaint to a friend).

And the point of this is that nothing happened. Sounds a bit silly at first, but nothing happened. But that's the idea. You might not realize that over half the people in jail for violent crimes are not hardened career criminals. They were regular folks just like you and me. They found themselves in stressful circumstances, the right buttons got pushed, someone else responded, and BOOM! Violence happened. Say the second woman had stayed around to argue with the dog walker, say a few friends of both women came by to support their buddy, say one person bumped into another who pushed back who pushed back harder . . . no, not a likely occurrence at the farmers' market. But I'm sure you can recall a situation where this kind of pattern could very well have ignited.

Sunday, September 16, 2007

Is There Really a "New" Kind of Rape?

The September issue of Cosmopolitan magazine features a story on what they're calling a new form of date rape. "Gray" rape, according to Cosmo, takes place in today's party environment, where there's often lots of alcohol, drugs, flirting, and the idea that women can be as bold as men about sex. Maybe they go off somewhere and begin making out, she says no to sex but he doesn't hear or pay attention . . . is it rape? About half of women in that situation will not call it rape--but they'll still end up dealing with the emotional fallout (see my April article for that issue). Most of the rest will feel it was wrong, but put a lot of the blame on themselves.

Don't get me wrong, I think it's great that Cosmo is tackling the whole date rape issue--and calling it rape. This article's got some good advice for prevention and seeking help. There's even advice for guys on what consent is and is not, and mention that men too can be sexually exploited. Is this, however, a new type of rape? I don't think so.

Gray rape is still date rape, with some fresh window dressing. Cosmo attributes the "confusion" and women's self-blame to a new era of sexual freedom. In earlier generations, the excuses were that guys just couldn't control themselves, he'd have "blue balls," she led him on, she dressed "that" way, or (in the 1960s) "free love." Coerced sex, along with victim-blaming, is woven in our social fabric. Whatever the name, whatever the purported rationale, it's still rape and still not new. And still can be defended against.

Monday, September 10, 2007

Tasers on Seattle buses?

This morning I received an anonymous phone call from a woman who said electrical stun devices are randomly popping up in Seattle, on the bus but also on the streets downtown. She described the perpetrators as small groups of mostly young people, girls and boys, but she's also noticed some "older" folk. They work in groups of 2 to 5, and they use very small stun devices about the size and even appearance of cell phones or pagers. They seem to text-message their buddies about who to target and when to approach. She's able to note these groups because the members appear to be trying hard to pretend they're not staring at their potential targets.

Have you, or your friends, experienced this? Please email me your reports!