Could sex ed have made a difference in Steubenville?

Comments ( 3 )

I have been obsessing over Steubenville, Ohio.  Steubenville is not an anomaly; it is representative of a rape culture, of toxic masculinity.  While we as educators don’t have the power to fix it, we are in the position to make a big difference, by talking to youth about consent, respect, and safety.

Imagine that you can turn the clock back to Fall 2011.  You have been asked to do a couple of workshops for Steubenville High to address the school climate.   Would you respond by talking about birth control and STD prevention?  Probably not.   What lessons would you choose?  What lessons or curricula have you used that you think make the biggest difference?  This is theoretical, but also very practical: we have this opportunity with thousands of students each year in places that could very easily become the next headline example of teen sexual violence.  What are your curriculum suggestions?  Workshop ideas?

Please leave thoughts, suggestions, even links to curricula below.  The comments are moderated, so they won’t show up immediately, but we’re trying to post each as quickly as possible.

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3 Responses


As a way of teaching about Relationships/Communication, I teach about Consent, in sexual and non-sexual situations, age appropriate for middle and high school. All materials for Consent lesson can be found here:
The point is to teach Sexual Ethics, not just the letter of the law. Consent addresses individual responsibility for communication as well as honoring another personal space and integrity. This lesson often unearths the tendency for students to “blame the victim” in abusive situations. A tendency we are seeing all over Steubenville news.


I’m struggling to come up with something. I saw part of the video one of the witnesses made, and it’s truly disturbing. He used the word “rape” liberally enough to know that’s exactly what happened. What was missing here- for him and many others- was 1) the sense that the victim was a person and not an object and 2) that a person shouldn’t be violated.

Is it viable to have rape survivors come in and talk to people about what they experienced? Can you then have the students talk about what that person must have felt?

Or something else to help instruct empathy.


This sickness is worldwide, it comes from the environments we raise our children within, the way they see the men in their family treat women as objects and not as equals. The way television, film, and advertising glorify male stereotypes and display graphic rape scenes and unrealistic sexual encounters. Expensive game modules, erotic books and pornography that brainwash the innocent into believing that this is how women like to be treated, and finally through to destructive religions that deem women mere chattels of their husbands due to writings of men who died thousands of years before, leaving hard core fanatics to deduce the true meaning of their words in a way that only the truly deluded would understand.

The only way this will end is when secular governments are elected, the last misogynist generation of men die out, and their more enlightened / educated sons accept that women have values outside of the home and bedroom.

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