Skip to main content

Teach young men to treat women with respect

By Katie Hanna and Monika Johnson Hostler, Special to CNN
updated 1:48 PM EST, Sat January 5, 2013
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Katie Hanna, Monika Johnson Hostler: In the U.S. or abroad, violence against women persists
  • They say there's often a "code of silence" among athletes and fraternities
  • Hanna, Hostler: Athletic teams, coaches should educate boys about respecting women

Editor's note: Katie Hanna is the statewide director of Ohio Alliance to End Sexual Violence. Monika Johnson Hostler is the president of the National Alliance to End Sexual Violence.

(CNN) -- Just within the past week, a disturbing video released by the hacktivist group Knight Sec exposed details surrounding the alleged sexual assault of a teenage girl in Steubenville, Ohio; more protests erupted over the horrific gang rape of a young woman in India; and the final sessions of the 112th Congress did not reauthorize the Violence Against Women Act.

Whether it's here in the United States, or in other parts of the world, violence against women persists and justice often falls through the cracks.

The Steubenville rape case has come back into the spotlight due in large part to online activists who felt that it wasn't being taken seriously. While the case against two teenage football players is being investigated, with a trial set for February, we as a society must do all we can to end sexual violence against women.

Katie Hanna
Katie Hanna
Monika Johnson Hostler
Monika Johnson Hostler

The video footage and messages that surfaced on social media, which appear to depict the sexual abuse of a girl, highlight horrible attitudes and unacceptable behaviors toward women. One thing is clear: Those "bystanders" who were present on the night of the alleged rape bear a responsibility. Why didn't any one of them assist her or respond to what was happening? And while three members of the football team have come forward to testify in the case, more should have. The "code of silence" that is often found among athletes, fraternities and other similar groups must be addressed.

We call upon our athletic teams and coaches to speak up because they can play an important role in prevention. Coaches can educate young men about the need to treat women with respect, encourage healthy relationships with the opposite sex, and promote non-misogynist behavior. We must ensure that young men see sexual violence against women as despicable and do all they can to stop it.

According to a recent national survey, 1 in 5 women in the U.S. reported having been raped. Most rapes are perpetrated by someone the victim knows. Victimization can start early in life. We still live in a culture where young women are not given a voice and victims of sexual violence are sometimes not believed.

Opinion: Why don't some boys see it as rape?

Become a fan of CNNOpinion
Stay up to date on the latest opinion, analysis and conversations through social media. Join us at Facebook/CNNOpinion and follow us @CNNOpinion on Twitter. We welcome your ideas and comments.



The Ohio incident has sparked outrage since it first was reported. Advocates and community members were glad that the case was turned over to special prosecutors in the Office of Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine to avoid potential conflicts of interest. When Cleveland Plain Dealer reporter Rachel Dissell took up the story in September, it inspired people who had been sexually assaulted to come forward about their own experiences. These people know that they were no longer alone.

Alleged rape shocks Ohio town
Murphy: Rape is grossly under prosecuted

Fewer than half of Ohio's 88 counties have rape crisis services available for individuals who have been sexually assaulted, and many existing programs lack the adequate resources to provide needed prevention and community outreach to address the myths about sexual violence and promote a culture that supports rape survivors. In Steubenville, there is no prevention funding to address sexual violence. As for survivors, how can they seek justice and healing if they have little support and resources available?

We call upon House Speaker John Boehner -- who's from Ohio -- to help us end sexual violence.

Opinion: End culture of rape in 2013

The Violence Against Women Act includes provisions for engaging men and boys as allies to ending sexual violence, providing bystander intervention and prevention in high schools and on college campuses. Contact your Congress member and encourage him or her to reauthorize the Violence Against Women Act. Survivors and communities across Ohio and the nation deserve your support.

Follow us on Twitter @CNNOpinion

Join us on Facebook/CNNOpinion

The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of Katie Hanna and Monika Johnson Hostler.

ADVERTISEMENT
Part of complete coverage on
updated 12:53 PM EDT, Tue September 30, 2014
Jeff Yang calls Ello a wakeup call to Facebook and Twitter, and a sign of hope for fast-rising upstarts Pinterest and Snapchat.
updated 10:23 AM EDT, Wed October 1, 2014
Paul Waldman says the Secret Service should examine its procedures to make sure there are no threats to the White House--but without losing the openness so valuable to democracy
updated 10:55 AM EDT, Wed October 1, 2014
Jesse Williams says the videotape and 911 call that resulted in police gunning down John Crawford at a Walmart reveals the fatal injustice of racial assumptions
updated 7:03 PM EDT, Tue September 30, 2014
Mel Robbins says officials should drop the P.C. pose: The beheading in Oklahoma was not workplace violence. Plenty of evidence shows Alton Nolen was an admirer of ISIS.
updated 3:11 PM EDT, Tue September 30, 2014
The Occupy Central movement has already achieved much by bringing greater attention to Hong Kong's struggle for democracy, William Piekos says..
updated 3:11 PM EDT, Tue September 30, 2014
The Occupy Central movement has already achieved much by bringing greater attention to Hong Kong's struggle for democracy, writes William Piekos.
updated 10:13 AM EDT, Tue September 30, 2014
As Prime Minister Narendra Modi visits America, Madeleine Albright says a world roiled by conflict needs these two great democracies to commit to moving their partnership forward
updated 10:04 AM EDT, Tue September 30, 2014
John Sutter: Lake Providence, Louisiana, is the parish seat of the "most unequal place in America." And until somewhat recently, the poor side of town was invisible on Google Street View.
updated 9:11 AM EDT, Mon September 29, 2014
Julian Zelizer says in the run up to the 2016 election the party faces divisions on its approach to the U.S.'s place in the world
updated 10:19 AM EDT, Mon September 29, 2014
Ruben Navarrette says Common Core supporters can't devise a new set of standards and then fail to effectively sell it.
updated 9:29 AM EDT, Tue September 30, 2014
Earlier this month, Kenyans commemorated the heinous attack on the Westgate Mall in Nairobi.
updated 2:59 PM EDT, Tue September 30, 2014
David Wheeler says Colorado students are right to protest curriculum changes that downplays civil disobedience.
updated 9:58 PM EDT, Fri September 26, 2014
Sally Kohn says when people click on hacked celebrity photos or ISIS videos, they are encouraging the bad guys.
updated 7:55 AM EDT, Fri September 26, 2014
Loren Bunche says she walked by a homeless man every day and felt bad about it -- until one day she paused to get to know him
updated 9:32 AM EDT, Tue September 30, 2014
ISIS grabs headlines on social media, but hateful speech is no match for moderate voices, says Nadia Oweidat.
updated 8:33 AM EDT, Mon September 29, 2014
A new report counts jihadists fighting globally. The verdict? The threat isn't that big, says Peter Bergen.
updated 5:37 PM EDT, Tue September 23, 2014
Ebola could become the biggest humanitarian disaster in a generation, writes former British Prime Minister Tony Blair
updated 12:58 PM EDT, Fri September 26, 2014
ISIS has shocked the world. But will releasing videos of executions backfire? Four experts give their take.
updated 10:39 AM EDT, Fri September 26, 2014
Eric Holder kicked off his stormy tenure as attorney general with a challenge to the public that set tone for six turbulent years as top law-enforcement officer.
updated 9:09 AM EDT, Fri September 26, 2014
LZ Granderson says Obama was elected as a war-ending change agent, not a leader who would leave behind for his successor new engagement in Iraq and Syria. Is he as disappointed as the rest of us?
updated 5:10 AM EDT, Wed September 24, 2014
Gayle Lemmon says the question now is how to translate all the high-profile feminizing into real gains for women
ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT