Three girls, ages 14-16, in Norman, Oklahoma, are out of school following their having allegedly been raped by another student. He too is out of school, having been suspended for the remainder of the year. (No criminal charges have yet been filed, though there is audio of the student bragging to peers about one of the rapes.) The girls, on the other hand, are absent for reasons that are regrettably too familiar. One was apparently herself suspended when she swung her backpack at a student who was taunting her about having been raped. Another was apparently suspended for appearing at school under the influence the day following her alleged rape. The last has simply been unable to bear attending owing to the taunting and has “chosen” to stay home.
What is most striking in all this is the result: three students allegedly raped are out of school but, to my knowledge, the students who have bullied them and all who have passed along video of one of the rapes on social media are still attending. Whatever the efforts of the school, this is exactly the wrong result. Every girl in this school is now effectively on notice that it does not pay to report a rape, that silence is the prudent course.
There are so many agonizing things about this, one hardly knows where to begin. But two questions I have are these:
1. What are the conditions under which high school students learn to bully rape victims? I realize I may sound naïve in asking this, but in an environment in which younger people often evince attitudes often far more progressive than their elders, how does it come about that taunting rape victims is acceptable?
2. Related to the above, what are the effective ways a school can push back against this? It seems to me that generic anti-bullying strategies are likely to be insufficient but does anyone know of resources for “best practices” in education for addressing such problems? That is, what would one tell a school in this situation to do?