Stop Program That Teaches Teens to Escape Punishment for Rape


Target: U.S. Attorney William J. Ihlenfeld

Goal: Stop program that aims to protects rapists

A new program in West Virginia tells high school students to use social media “responsibly” so that students involved in sexual assault won’t get caught. The program was devised based on the implications of the Steubenville rape trials, in which male athletes were caught and punished for raping a young woman because pictures of the rape went on Instagram and Twitter.

U.S. Attorney William J. Ihlenfeld is creating a program that will be implemented at eleven different high schools in West Virginia – functioning essentially to protect students who participate in illegal activities. His program seeks to inform students, specifically male athletes, how to use social media sites correctly and responsibly so that these students can’t get caught as easily for sexual assault or other illegal actions.

Ihlenfeld was inspired by the Steubenville rape situation, indicating that just one night can change young peoples’ lives forever. However, his implication is that the lives of the male athletes who assaulted the young women were the ones that were changed forever, and that this might not have happened if they hadn’t documented the rape on social media. His new program will teach athletes not to become distracted by social media so as to avoid situations similar to that of Steubenville.

Ihlenfeld’s program perpetuates the idea that the male athletes at Steubenville were not to blame for raping, but instead that if they had just done a better job of keeping the incident a secret, they wouldn’t have gotten caught or wouldn’t have had as harsh of a punishment. This program teaches male athletes to hide the evidence of sexual assault, rather than teaching them not to rape others. A program for male athletes regarding rape would be much better suited if it spoke specifically about the importance of respecting all other beings and that young athletes don’t deserve special treatment in any way. Rather than teaching men not to rape, this program is teaching men that it’s okay to rape, as long as it’s kept a secret.

By signing the petition below you will be condemning this program for perpetuating the belief that it’s okay to rape as long as one’s not caught, and calling instead for anti-rape programs that protect the victims, rather than the rapists.


Dear U.S. Attorney William J. Ihlenfeld,

Providing informative information about rape culture and the importance of men to understand power dynamics in our society is extremely important, especially for male athletes. Teaching students how not to get caught when they sexually assault someone, however, is abhorrent and perpetuates the idea that men deserve to have non-consensual sex.

I am writing you to condemn you for the program you seek to implement in West Virginia that teaches men how to cover up for sexual assault or other illegal actions. Rather than providing young men with the tools and information needed so that they are taught not to rape, your program tells them that it’s okay to rape as long as they don’t get caught. This type of program is detrimental and disgusting, and it should not be implemented at any school. I hope that you revoke this program and instead try to implement a curriculum that teaches young athletes to respect women and all other people, instead of teaching them that it’s okay for them to rape.


[Your Name Here]

Photo Credit: gb_packards via Flickr

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206 Signatures

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