Sexual assault scenario

I recently overheard a group of women at a neighborhood grill out talking about how one lady’s daughter reportedly got her butt pinched in high school between classes. The perp was some boy she considered an “acquaintance” that had gone to a football game with her along with a group of other classmates the previous week. Apparently he thought this level of familiarity sufficient grounds to ‘make a move’ and proceeded to walk up behind her unsuspecting and do the deed. The girl’s response was to clock him in the face, whereafter he stormed off indignantly and has not spoken to her since.

That was all the context and background available to me. One of the women asked if sexual assault charges would be brought. I confess this question kind of shocked me, as I pictured the boy in question to be a socially awkward 16 year old horndog and my take was that he already received his just desserts (or at any rate a more or less equivalent response/punishment). The idea of ‘filing charges’ seems, well, rather extreme, but who knows maybe today’s young pincher gone unchecked might turn out to become tomorrow’s rapist, or worse, maybe even President!

Dopers, do you think: a) filing charges would be appropriate based on what you know? b) is any parental involvement warranted or appropriate in this situation, or is this something kids need to figure out for themselves?

I think the matter should be brought to the principal, and this should be a teachable moment for the young man. Filing charges would be a bit severe at this point, I think. Of course, if it happens again, by all means, take the next step. But let’s give the young man a chance to learn his lesson.

Kudoes to the young lady for standing up for herself.

While I wholeheartedly support her response (i.e. clocking him in the face), her having done so may land her in hot water along with the perp if she brings the whole incident up with the principal (see “zero tolerance for violence” policies).

Legal charges seem a bit excessive, and also will create substantial hassle for her; I suppose she needs to weight that against how violated/angry she feels about the whole thing.

One alternative that’s less hassle, and less likely to result in headaches for her, would be to bring the incident up with the boy’s parents. Ideally they will be supportive of the girl’s complaint and administer consequences to their son on their own. If they’re hostile/apathetic, then at least they (and the boy) can be put on notice that if it does happen again, official attention (from the school and/or the police) will be brought to bear.

Letting kids figure it out for themselves is how you end up with “Lord Of The Flies” being acted out in school hallways, i.e. rampant bullying and sexual harassment/assault. They’re still minors, and it’s entirely appropriate (necessary, even) to issue adult guidance when they’ve run far afoul of accepted norms of behavior.


Charge him.

He laid his hand, uninvited, on a women in a sexual fashion. Everyone in that school needs to know unequivocally that’s a straight up crime. Every girl. Every boy. Every teacher. Every parent.

It’s unlikely to get much traction, or even get to court. But this is the epitome of a teaching moment for the entire school, and community.

Boy should publicly apologize and acknowledge his error. Then, and only then, charges should be dropped, and everyone can move on.

We are far beyond, ‘boys will be boys’, and, ‘let them work it out on their own!’. Those attitudes are exactly what leads to young men thinking this is maybe okay. And when they go unpunished, or it gets excused away as youthful exuberance, the message is sent, to boys and girls, that this ain’t no big thing.

Charge him!

At some point, there needs to be some allowances for the fact that boys don’t start out knowing how to make perfect passes. The learning curve must include the occasional mistake, and correction. Which seems to be what happened. But also tolerance for mistakes, up to a point.

Charging him I think would be an overreaction.

Young people are learning machines. Research has shown that the decision making and impulse control centers are not fully developed in young people.

For something like this, I believe a stern talking to (yes, that’s a real thing) with a framing of “Do you understand what sexual assault means? Do you understand that what you did is considered sexual assault?” etc., is appropriate. Give him a chance to learn from his mistake and correct his behavior. An explanation of the more severe consequences of a second violation would be appropriate. If there is a second violation, then escalate the response.

To a only slightly lesser degree, the girl in question would receive a talking to about using physical violence. But again, a chance to learn and correct behavior.

Consequently, I am not a fan of zero tolerance policies when it comes to young people, in that the consequences are draconian and usually quite permanent. I believe that holding young people to adult standards is inappropriate. Involving law enforcement would only start a machinery that cannot be controlled.

I wondered if responses might go along gender lines. The boy’s behavior was inappropriate, but at the same time I sometimes wonder if women appreciate the challenges young males face when dealing with learning ‘mating rituals’. Like it or not, the dominant culture has decreed that males are expected to actively ‘hunt’ for mates and females are assigned the role of ‘choosing’ suitors. Part of this rather complicated dance involves incremental advances traditionally initiated by males that are either tacitly or explicitly accepted by the female (sorta caricatured by the old ‘first base, second base, third base’ metaphor). Unlike baseball, however, there is no official rule book for boys to consult and much of the process appears to be a learn as you go affair and the only lights along the path are sometimes little more than feedback from peers in the form of swapping dating ‘war stories’. Unless the boy in question had engaged in this sort of behavior on multiple occasions, I tend to think filing charges would be grossly disproportionate to the offense committed, but am still open to arguments to the contrary.

Bullcrap. Touching another person without permission is not an acceptable form of “mating ritual”. Her response to him was entirely warranted.

This point (raised by several people above) is why some additional action needs to be taken. How do you know this is the first time he has done this? It needs to be reported to someone higher up who can maintain a record and determine if this was a one-time learning experience or an indication of a bigger problem.

“Filing charges” might be a little extreme, but certainly reporting it to the principal is an appropriate action.

(And cut the crap about “boys will be boys.” We are several decades past the point where any boy can claim that grabbing a girl’s ass is a valid mating ritual and girls should appreciate how challenging it is to know that it might be wrong. What absolute bullshit.)

No doubt. The girl’s response was perfectly proportional to the offense. It’s the adults’ judgment (initiating criminal charges against a teenager) that I’m questioning.

I think legal action is excessive, but he should be punished.

Sorry, but my irony meter just went off. How is her fist hitting his face not touching another person without permission?

She was provoked and defended herself. Was he provoked into pinching her?

Yep. Plus charging him takes this outside the hands of the school district and shows the school district that they must take these issues seriously. Its a shame that most of us can’t trust a school district to protect our daughters, but we know most of them don’t and the far easier response for the school district is a slap on the hand for him - and perhaps even greater punishment for her for the violent response.

And it shows his parents that they skipped a step in raising their son. A serious step that needs to be remedied.

We appreciate that we are not objects to be grabbed whenever a young man may feel inclined. People, as a general rule, learn to keep their hands to themselves at a very young age. This is not a mating ritual (which is one step below “Boys will be boys”).

Really? It has to be demonstrated that he’s done this on numerous occasions, for it to register as offensive?

If that was your daughter, would knowing she’s his first victim of groping excuse it away? That’s some screwed up thinking in my book.

I can tell you with 100% certainty my prosecutor would never consider this a sexual assault. Probably not assault either. Harassment probably but with juveniles they would try very hard to mediate before it gets to a court. Your jurisdiction may vary of course.

Filing charges against him strikes me as a bit of an over reaction. There is a middle ground between shrugging it off, and making him serve time, or at least there should be.


No one actually advocated for him serving time. As I said, it won’t get traction, he will publicly apologize and then, and ONLY then charge gets dropped.

But yes, the ‘something’ that should be done, is that a very loud message needs to be sent. That this IS a big thing, and it is going to have quite possibly legal consequences.

Everybody is talking about wanting to see change, supporting changing attitudes, blah, blah, blah. This IS the change that needs to be supported.

If nothing beyond reprimand happens, (the same old, same old!), a message is being sent to very young person in that school that this isn’t really a big deal.

If you say you support change, this right here is where it has to start, in my opinion.