‘Rape rape’ games: Is sex education to blame?

2014-08-20 11:41

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"Rape game", violence dominates today's newspaper front pages

2014-08-18 10:18

Jerusha Sukhdeo-Raath takes you through today's newspaper front pages where stories of rape, a school "rape game" and violence feature prominently. WATCH

Cape Town - Children as young as 10 have been playing the game called "rape rape", in which schoolboys simulate rape with girls whom they chase and catch, according to a report in the Cape Times.

The Western Cape education department said it will be sending district officials to schools across the province to speak to principals as part of a full investigation, despite having received no reports of the game from the public.

Yet the executive director of Childline, Ricki Fransman, told News24 that Childline’s crisis phone line has received some calls with regard to the game.

Fransman, who is anticipating more calls as awareness grows, said: “The calls have been along the lines of wanting us to come out and do our awareness talks at the schools with both the learners and adults - educators and parents.”

What are children taught?

Primary school children are not taught about sexuality, sexual health, or reproductive health.

They are however taught about HIV/Aids, abuse (sexual, physical, emotional), gender and equality empowerment, stigmas and discrimination.

The Western Cape education department said that across all phases, the Life Orientation curriculum “already deals with sex and sexuality at appropriate levels”.

It is not until Grade 7, at the start of the Senior Phase, when children are provided with explicit sex education.

Should we lower the age of sex ed?

Kathleen Dey, director of Rape Crisis told News24, dealing with sex in high school is the “correct age” to be addressing the issues.  “Children younger than this have not yet reached the developmental level required in order to understand the consequences of their actions,” she said.

Fransman agrees that any information taught to children should be “appropriate” for the age of the child.

However, she said that children as young as 5 are able to understand the difference between right and wrong - arguing that this is the age where adults can start talking to a child about appropriate and inappropriate touches.

She added: “As children enter their teenage years, it is more appropriate to look at issues with regard to consensual sex and rape, as it is stipulated and set out in the Sexual Offences Act.”

Is SA’s sex education good enough?

According to a 2013 Unesco report, South Africa’s sex education curriculum fails to make the grade in the majority of topics.

Looking at the gaps in sex education content and approach, Unesco said South Africa’s schooling was “missing or weak” in 8 out of 12 topics, including sexuality, sexual behaviour, gender rights, empowerment and age appropriateness.

Dey, meanwhile, argues that South Africa’s sex education curriculum is “strongly slanted towards the issue of HIV/Aids”.

She said the curriculum should be reviewed to include more about the “myths and stereotypes” that promote rape and rape culture.

Unesco has launched a regional campaign across 21 countries in Eastern and Southern Africa to implement a “good quality” curriculum by 2015, which includes training for teachers, health and social workers.

A spokesperson from Unesco told News24 that the reports of the ‘rape rape’ game in the Western Cape had come to the organisation’s attention, adding that it only reiterates how “absolutely essential” a good curriculum is.

Is educating children the problem?

Fransman however pointed out that there have been “great strides” in sex education and life skills issues, but she said with the rate of child abuse in South Africa, the country needs to focus on adults: educators, caregivers, community members and others.

She said: “It is not helpful and will not have a great enough impact in combating crimes against children to only be educating the child. Adults need to be educated, as they are most often the first person that a child will disclose to if the child has been abused.”

Dey also called for more focus on South Africa’s adult community, arguing that the ‘rape rape’ game is a symptom of a larger “societal disease”.

She said: “Adults should be the ones taking ownership of the issue”.

'Serious problem with our society'

It is a point echoed by the provincial minister of education, Debbie Schafer, who said on Monday that the game reflected a “serious problem with our society”.

She added: “The fact that primary school children even know what rape is and how it is done is tragic”.

The MEC said that with “unacceptably high” incidents of sexual violence in the country, one way of combating such incidents is to teach children from a young age what is acceptable behaviour and what is not.

For Dey, the real question about the ‘rape rape’ game should not be asked about the children, “but about the growing culture of rape in South Africa and what adult behaviour is teaching our children”.

Read more on:    childline  |  cape town  |  child abuse  |  education

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