When I saw the news reporting that a Texas state representative had said in “the emergency rooms they have what’s called rape kits, that the woman can get cleaned out…” and compared said rape kits to an abortion procedure, I thought that surely it was a misquote (I also felt sick to my stomach—seriously: “cleaned out?”). Surely, someone did not say that. But apparently someone did: Jodie Laubenberg.
I don’t know if this woman is confused or just stupid (she claims her thoughts came out “muddled” because she was trying to get them out as fast as she could), but I do know this: her words are dangerous.
Likening a sexual assault forensic evidence kit (aka rape kit) to abortion is just downright irresponsible. Not only is it just not true, but also it could potentially deter rape survivors from consenting to a rape kit when they visit the hospital after an attack. And why is that a problem? I’m glad you asked. It’s a problem because rape kits are a key tool in prosecuting rapists successfully. The evidence culled from rape kits (i.e. DNA) puts criminals behind bars—stops rapists from being able to rape again—gets predators off the streets. If a woman (particularly a pro-life woman) mistakenly thinks that a rape kit is a type of abortion, she’s more likely to opt out, which means her rapist is likely going to escape justice—and he’ll be back out there, trolling for his next victim.
Her thoughts may have been “muddled” in the process of becoming actual words, but the fact remains: her words were inaccurate and irresponsible…even dangerous. I only hope that the words spoken to sexual assault victims by doctors, nurses, and advocates outweigh the comments made by Ms. Laubenberg yesterday. It also wouldn’t hurt if she made a public statement admitting and correcting her error…but I won’t hold my breath for that.
Hey! You’ve read my disclaimer, right?
Somebody sent me this post this morning: it explains how Florida has passed legislation making developmental education in college voluntary (where previously it was mandatory).
I worry for Florida. But more than that, I worry for us–and hope that we (South Carolina) are not heading in this direction.
Here’s (part of the reason) why:
ACT’s most recently published (2010) What Works in Student Retention (WWISR) data for community colleges rates the following as the top three practices making the greatest contribution to retention:
- Mandated placement of students in courses based on test courses
- Remedial/developmental coursework (required).
Other research supports this, finding developmental education to be a significant predictor of retention. For example, Highbee, Arendale, and Lundell (2005) point to estimates that two million students would drop out of college every year without the benefit of developmental education.
Still other research tells us this:
- Passing developmental writing is a predictor of fall-to-fall retention.
- Passing a developmental reading class has been shown to be the greatest predictor of retention.
- Passing developmental mathematics courses is an indicator of both fall-to-spring and fall-to-fall retention.
When student retention and student success are our goals, it makes you wonder, doesn’t it, whether moving from mandatory to voluntary placement in developmental coursework like Florida is really in students’ best interests…or if revamping developmental education to increase its effectiveness, as we are doing, is really the smarter move.
I’m sure you can guess where I stand on the issue.
I’m not a parent, so I don’t get it: how do you forget your kid is in the car? Our local news paper reports that child deaths in hot cars are on the rise. In that article, they interview the Kids and Cars founder ( who knew there was such a thing?). She had this to say:
“The worst thing any parent or caregiver can do is think that this could never happen to them, that they are not capable of inadvertently leaving their child behind. This can and does happen to the most loving, responsible and attentive parents.”
She then provides tips for how you can avoid accidentally leaving your kids in the car while you go to work:
- “Put something in the back seat, so you have to open the back door to get it.” (Surprise! Your kid is still in there, too. You forgot to drop him at day care!)
- “Put a stuffed animal in the child seat when it’s not in use and move it to the front seat when your child is in the car. It will serve as a reminder that the child seat is in use.”
I can see how both of these options might help you remember there’s a tiny human in the backseat of your car. And I know parents are busy and get frazzled and, thus, forget things. But things and kids are different. I guess babies fall asleep in the car, so since they’re not making any noise you could forget them. But I don’t know. I check my backseat before I get out of the car at work just to make sure I didn’t forget an umbrella or a bag or something (I have accidentally taken my gym bag in to work because I did that). I feel like I’d be even more paranoid if it could potentially be a child (of course, I’m super paranoid anyway–I check to make sure the car is locked at least 3 times before walking away from it–and to do that, I have to look back through the window at least once). But I don’t know–like I said, I don’t have a kid (so I’m not judging–just saying I do not understand it).
If you do, check your backseat! Because I also cannot imagine what it would be like to be responsible–accident though it may be–for your own child’s death. I’m not sure how one might get over that–ever.
Last time I checked, rape is a crime. And crimes are reported to and handled by the police and later the court and penal systems. So I’m not really sure why some colleges still think it’s acceptable to handle rape charges internally rather than reporting them to the appropriate authorities. It sort of makes me think they don’t take sexual assault seriously. Which is infuriating. And completely unacceptable.
Colleges have on obligation to provide safe campuses to their students. Part of that obligation involves ensuring that students who violate the law are punished–according to the law. And for the record: the “Student Code of Conduct” is not the law. And a lecture on appropriate student behavior is not an appropriate disciplinary action for a rapist. When colleges downplay sexual assault–for whatever reason– by treating it as anything less than a violent crime, it sends a message to rape victims–including future victims: What happened to you is not serious, and we will not take it seriously. No wonder sexual assaults are under-reported on college campuses. It takes a lot for a victim to come forward in the first place–many women worry about not being believed. What these colleges are doing is contributing to and perpetuating rape culture further. And it’s unacceptable.
To be clear, it is unacceptable (nay, disgusting) when…
I could go on, but I think you get my point. As I’ve said before, rape is rape is rape is still rape. And rape is a brutal crime. A crime punishable by law–a crime that should be handled by our police and courts, not college honor or student conduct boards.
Have you read my disclaimer?