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Media’s Gift to Dads on Father’s Day; A Comedy about Statutory Rape

Imagine that on Mother’s Day a comedy film was released about the statutory rape of a 13-year-old girl by her male teacher. The girl’s friends laugh and congratulate her on getting pregnant by her teacher as he is taken away to jail.

Such a movie would and should be condemned by anyone concerned about our kids.  Experts would point that there is nothing funny about the rape of a child, even if the sexual relations were “consensual.”  People like me would write about the deleterious effects of sexual activities between young teens and older individuals.

While there was no such Mother’s Day movie distributed this past May, Adam Sandler’s comedy “That’s My Boy” will be released around Father’s Day focusing on a 13-year-old boy’s sexual adventures with his middle school teacher who subsequently becomes pregnant by this child.  The tag line of the movie is particularly offensive—“Everyone has a teenage crush. Donny’s went a little too far.”  Sex with your teacher is “a little too far!”

The outrage would be intense if the roles were reversed and this was a comedy about the statutory rape of a 13-year-old girl by her older male teacher.  However, when it comes to the sexual abuse of boys, there remains a double standard—some feel it is acceptable to laugh at the rape of our boys by older women.

Here’s the danger in movies like this. Statutory rape is neither harmless nor humorous, regardless of whether the victim is a young girl or boy. Sexual relations between young teens and their teachers are not innocent acts to be mutually enjoyed, but criminal acts with serious legal and mental health consequences. Movies like this contribute to the illusion that acting on the sexual fantasies of some young kids (and their teachers) are fodder for humorous stories rather than tragedies.

According to Child Trends Data Bank, nine percent of girls and five percent of boys reported that their first sexual experience at age 15 or younger occurred with someone who was three or more years older. These are not playful adventures but experiences with serious negative consequences.  Young adolescents who were sexually involved with older individuals had a greater rate of sexually transmitted diseases and pregnancy.  Female teens involved with older males exhibited a greater rate of substance abuse and mental health problems than teens sexually active with same-age partners.

This movie is a topic for dinner time conversation with your kids. Ask questions of your kids about the main theme. Discuss why Hollywood makes such movies.

The best gift we can give to our dads is simply not see this movie and send Hollywood a message. We are not going to laugh at the sexual abuse of our sons.

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We have created this blog as a way to communicate key childrens' health and safety issues to parents and other child advocates. It is managed by Dayton Children's department of marketing communications. Comments can be sent to rodneyg@childrensdayton.org.

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