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Rape and sexual assault education: where is the law?

Rape and sexual assault education: where is the law?

Withey, Carol ORCID: 0009-0001-6415-336X (2010) Rape and sexual assault education: where is the law? New Criminal Law Review, 13 (4). pp. 802-825. ISSN 1933-4192 (Print), 1933-4206 (Online) (doi:

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This article considers the effectiveness of rape awareness programs in reducing or preventing instances of rape. There is a plethora of existing research, which is briefly considered. Research in this area is usually based on the assumption that behavioral change requires a corresponding change in attitudes toward sexual behavior and rape. For this reason most research analyzes the effect of rape awareness programs on attitudinal change. It will be argued that rape prevention research needs to be approached from a different angle, and should consider whether individual sexual behavior can change in the absence of altered attitudes. The premise here is that a sound knowledge of rape law may itself affect behavior. This is based on the empowering nature of knowledge, which may legitimize female sexual choices and deter men from offending behavior, even if rape myth acceptance remains. This perspective necessitates a shift in program content, where the focus is placed on the law governing rape. The article considers recent research conducted from this alternative perspective and assesses the impact of the program on legal knowledge and sexual behavior. The article concludes with a consideration of current efforts in the United Kingdom to tackle the prevention problem and offers suggestions for improving the content of rape awareness programs.

Item Type: Article
Additional Information: [1] This article was written following a conference paper delivered at a specialist conference 'Rape and Criminal Justice: Challenging Myths and Supporting Victims', University of West of England (September 2008). The paper that gave rise to this article was "The School Project: Assessing and challenging the perceptions of rape held by secondary school children”. Following the conference further research (including empirical) was conducted into the effectiveness of rape awareness programmes in schools and Universities. Each presenter at the original conference subsequently contributed to a special issue of the quarterly 'New Criminal Law Review', dedicated to issues regarding sexual offending. Since publication the Chairperson of the Metropolitan Police Authority has referred to the contents of the article in relation to the MPA's initiative to develop sex law educational programmes in schools.
Uncontrolled Keywords: rape, rape education, rape interventions, rape myths, sexual offending
Subjects: K Law > K Law (General)
Faculty / School / Research Centre / Research Group: Faculty of Liberal Arts & Sciences
Related URLs:
Last Modified: 29 Jul 2023 10:27

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