University of New Hampshire
Mentor: Melody Graulich, Ph.D. - Professor of English and of Women's Studies
Educating Students About Sexual Abuse Through Reading And Writing In High School Classrooms
My purpose in this research is to use literature to explore the history, language, and place of child sexual assault in our society and lives. Passages can be used to initiate reading and writing, such as this from Barbara Kingsolver's The Bean Trees:
Cynthia said that, as horrible as it was, this kind of thing happened often, not just on Indian reservations but in the most every-day-looking white frame houses and even places a whole lot fancier than that. She told me that maybe one out of every four little girls is sexually abused by a family member. Maybe more.
Surprisingly, hearing this wasn't really what upset me the most. Maybe by then I was already numb, or could only begin to think of the misfortunes of one of the little girls at a time. But also, I reasoned, this meant that Turtle was not alone. At least she would have other people to talk to about it when she grew up (173).
From this selection, educators might initiate discussion about who is sexually victimized, where, by whom, how common is it, how we react to sex and sexual abuse as a society, and what the implications are of not being alone - having someone that understands to talk with.
Sex and sexual abuse are difficult topics to fit properly into the education of our children, although by discussing sexual assault it is possible to give students a better understanding of what sexual abuse is, how it effects them (victimized or not), and how to better protect themselves from assault.