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Teens raping teens!

Initiations, rape and peer pressure - are SA’s teens out of control?
Scott Dunlop
By Scott Dunlop
Article originally in Parent24
The prevalence of traumatic stories involving teen-on-teen violence and sexual abuse seems to have risen in recent weeks.

What’s more, the acts which have made it as far as the media seem to indicate a worrying trend: South Africa’s teens appear to be out of control and acting without a conscience. While peer pressure and isolated incidents of initiation have always formed part of teen culture, now, it seems, teens are taking these to extremes.

Peer pressure

Peer pressure is considered part of the teen experience. Navigating social expectations often relies on going with what (and whom) are coolest. Peer pressure is the force which drives teens to act either slightly or drastically out of character, sometimes with tragic results.

It may be as simple as one kid trying to steal sweets or cigarettes from the corner cafe, to, as seen recently, complicit participation in the brutal gang-rape of a mentally disabled fellow-teen. That this last incident was filmed, and the footage circulated to other teens indicates that peer pressure to accept such horrendous behaviour exists.

Previous bullying cases involving the circulation of explicit material depicting classmates (illegally) in sexual positions shows that there is a market for this material within the schools. Is it considered “funny”, or do those involved simply want to impress their friends?


When joining a new grade, rugby team or some other new group within the school environment, it has been traditionally acceptable to perform initiation rituals, or “hazing”. The group will require a new individual to undergo often humiliating treatment in order to prove that he can “make the grade”. As with most unsupervised teen behaviour, this may also descend rapidly out of control. The latest news story from News24 of a teens’ alleged rape at the hands of his rugby team-mates (who used a broom handle and a banana, as well as other shocking activities) is a worst-case-scenario.

It’s NOT “ok”!

Since when did it become “ok” to rape a fellow teen? The simple answer is, that is not “ok”, “cool” or in any way acceptable.

Sure, teens will face some hard lessons during the time that they are at high school, and, while trying to figure out who they are amidst academic and social pressures, they will be struggling to figure out who they can trust, and how to be more popular. This could easily lead to uncomfortable, or even dangerous, situations, where they put themselves, and others, at risk.

The responsibility lies with parents, guardians, education institutions and religious/community organisations in making sure that abhorrent behaviour is neither glorified nor acceptable.
  • As a parenting community where we encourage parents to share their insecurities, fears and experiences, we’d like to state the obvious: Rape is wrong. Rape is not a game, nor is the distribution of pornography. Aggravated bullying and intimidation, especially when it is sexual in nature is something our schools must not tolerate.
  • If you are aware of anything like these kinds of activities in your schools, religious institutions, workplaces or anywhere else where kids are vulnerable to this behaviour, report it to the authorities.
  • If you are in a position of authority yourself, don’t hesitate to involve child services and all of the tools at your disposal.
  • Don’t protect criminal behaviour, even if it is committed by someone close to you. Rather inform the authorities, and do everything in your power to get that person help.
  • Check your kids’ peer groups. Get to know their friends, and monitor any potentially destructive behaviour. Also, make sure you chat to them, and keep the lines of communication open.
  • Arm your children. Not with weapons, but with information. Clearly, this generation cannot rely on perceived “innocence”. Your children should understand what acceptable behaviour is for themselves and on behalf of their peers, and should not be afraid to speak out if they are either victims themselves or witnesses. Help your children protect themselves.
Lifeline’s web site provides a list of Lifeline Centres in your area, as well as contact details for Child Line. Alternatively, you can contact them toll-free at 0800 055 555.

The Child Emergency Line can be reached for free at 0800 123 321.

Child Welfare SA provides a hotline for reporting abuse: 0861 4 CHILD (24453)

Why do you think our teens seem to be out of control, and how can we help defuse this shocking behaviour?

Disclaimer: The views of columnists published on Parent24 are their own and therefore do not necessarily represent the views of Parent24.
Read more on: rape  |  behaviour  |  teen  |  peer pressure


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