Town Square

Student journalists investigate 'rape culture' at Paly

Original post made on Apr 9, 2013

The editor of a student magazine at Palo Alto High School said her staff has received "overwhelmingly positive" reaction to a cover package investigating "rape culture" among students published April 9. Writers said they want to "break the silence" and challenge readers' sense of inevitability about rape.

Read the full story here Web Link posted Tuesday, April 9, 2013, 12:50 PM


Posted by PA Reads, a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Apr 9, 2013 at 4:05 pm

Congratulations to Lisie and this issue's editors for creating such an inspiring platform for communication. This issue is not easy for anyone, but the more communities take action to open productive conversation like this, the more change will be made.

Posted by Random thoughts, a resident of Menlo Park
on Apr 9, 2013 at 4:48 pm

High school rape culture is a combination of immature people not thinking through the issues and implications of their comments and attitudes.

Frankly, all teens are immature by nature, so it's not surprising. Until teens experience something first-hand as well as the repercussions of it, they have no concept that they are part of the problem.

While you can't make teens mature, adults and parents needs to keep over-communicating that how someone flirts or drinks is not permission to rape, nor is joking about it ok.

All rape should be punishable by jail. I know it's difficult to prove, and you don't want the innocent to go to jail, but at the moment hardly anyone is being punished.... another crime.

Bravo to the journalists for covering this difficult topic

Posted by Paly Parent, a resident of University South
on Apr 9, 2013 at 5:41 pm

Excellent. I applaud the reporters, editors and faculty adviser for having the courage and willingness to tackle a complex, politically uncomfortable issue in a thorough, responsible manner. Thank you for breaking the silence.

Posted by Michele Daubet, a resident of Barron Park
on Apr 9, 2013 at 5:55 pm

Congrats to Paul Kandell and his talented students. The Paly J program is the crown jewel of PAUSD. It won't surprise you to learn that this issue carries over into universities including progressive places like Stanford where i have participated in working on revising our policy. You might be interested to know that the US Department of Education considers rape to be a civil rights issue and requires schools and colleges to have policies in place that assure a fair prompt private and impartial resolution for claims of sexual violence (considered an extreme form of sexual harassment). If students who have been assaulted feel that their complaints were not taken seriously or resolved appropriately they have the ability to file a complaint with the district using the Uniform Complaint Procedure or with the federal Office of Civil Rights. Victims do not have to be silent (though they can choose to). Help is available.

Posted by FYI, a resident of Adobe-Meadows
on Apr 9, 2013 at 6:03 pm

Through a rapist's eyes! A group of rapists and date rapists in prison were interviewed on what they look for in a potential victim and here are some interesting facts:

1] The first thing men look for in a potential victim is hairstyle. They are most likely to go after a woman with a ponytail, bun! , braid or other hairstyle that can easily be grabbed. They are also likely to go after a woman with long hair. Women with short hair are not common targets.

2] The second thing men look for is clothing. They will look for women whose clothing is easy to remove quickly. Many of them carry scissors around to cut clothing.

3] They also look for women using their cell phone, searching through their purse or doing other activities while walking because they are off guard and can be easily overpowered.

4] The number one place women are abducted from / attacked at is grocery store parking lots.

5] Number two is office parking lots/garages.

6] Number three is public restrooms.

7] The thing about these men is that they are looking to grab a woman and quickly move her to a second location where they don't have to worry about getting caught.

8] If you put up any kind of a fight at all, they get discouraged because it only takes a minute or two for them to realize that going after you isn't worth it because it will be time-consuming.

9] These men said they would not pick on women who have umbrellas, or other similar objects that can be used from a distance, in their hands.

10] Keys are not a deterrent because you have to get really close to the attacker to use them as a weapon. So, the idea is to convince these guys you're not worth it.


1] If someone is following behind you on a street or in a garage or with you in an elevator or stairwell, look them in the face and ask them a question, like what time is it, or make general small talk: can't believe it is so cold out here, we're in for a bad winter. Now that you've seen their faces and could identify them in a line- up, you lose appeal as a target.

2] If someone is coming toward you, hold out your hands in front of you and yell Stop or Stay back! Most of the rapists this man talked to said they'd leave a woman alone if she yelled or showed that she would not be afraid to fight back. Again, they are looking for an EASY target.

3] If you carry pepper spray (this instructor was a huge advocate of it and carries it with him wherever he goes,) yelling I HAVE PEPPER SPRAY and holding it out will be a deterrent.

4] If someone grabs you, you can't beat them with strength but you can do it by outsmarting them. If you are grabbed around the waist from behind, pinch the attacker either under the arm between the elbow and
armpit or in the upper inner thigh - HARD. One woman in a class this guy taught told him she used the underarm pinch on a guy who was trying to date rape her and was so upset she broke through the skin and tore out muscle strands the guy needed stitches. Try pinching yourself in those places as hard as you can stand it; it really hurts.

5] After the initial hit, always go for the groin. I know from a particularly unfortunate experience that if you slap a guy's parts it is extremely painful. You might think that you'll anger the guy and make him want to hurt you more, but the thing these rapists told our instructor is that they want a woman who will not cause him a lot of
trouble. Start causing trouble, and he's out of there.

6] When the guy puts his hands up to you, grab his first two fingers and bend them back as far as possible with as much pressure pushing down on them as possible. The instructor did it to me without using much pressure, and I ended up on my knees and both knuckles cracked

7] Of course the things we always hear still apply. Always be aware of your surroundings, take someone with you if you can and if you see any odd behavior, don't dismiss it, and go with your instincts. You may feel little silly at the time, but you'd feel much worse if the guy really was trouble.


I know you are smart enough to know these pointers but there will be some, where you will go "hmm I must remember that" After reading, forward it to someone you care about, never hurts to be careful in
this crazy world we live in.

1. Tip from Tae Kwon Do: The elbow is the strongest point on your body. If you are close enough to use it, do it.

2. Learned this from a tourist guide to New Orleans: if a robber asks for your wallet and/or purse, DO NOT HAND IT TO HIM. Toss it away from you.... chances are that he is more interested in your wallet and/or purse than you and he will go for the wallet/purse. RUN LIKE MAD IN THE OTHER DIRECTION!

3. If you are ever thrown into the trunk of a car: Kick out the back tail lights and stick your arm out the hole and start waving like crazy. The driver won't see you but everybody else will. This has saved lives.

4. Women have a tendency to get into their cars after shopping, eating, working, etc., and just sit
(doing their checkbook, or making a list, etc. DON'T DO THIS! The predator will be watching you, and this is the perfect opportunity for him to get in on the passenger side, put a gun to your head, and tell you where to go. AS SOON AS YOU CLOSE the DOORS, LEAVE.

5. A few notes about getting into your car in a parking lot, or parking garage:

a. Be aware: look around your car as someone may be hiding at the passenger side, peek into your car, inside the passenger side floor, and in the back seat. (DO THIS TOO BEFORE RIDING A TAXI CAB).

b. If you! U are parked next to a big van, enter your car from the passenger door. Most serial killers attack their victims by pulling them into their vans while the women are attempting to get into their cars.

c. Look at the car parked on the driver's side of your vehicle, and the passenger side. If a male is sitting alone in the seat nearest your car, you may want to walk back into the mall, or work, and get a guard /policeman to walk you back out. IT IS ALWAYS BETTER TO BE SAFE THAN SORRY. (And better paranoid than dead.)

6. ALWAYS take the elevator instead of the stairs. (Stairwells are horrible places to be alone and the perfect crime spot).

7. If the predator has a gun and you are not under his control, ALWAYS RUN! The predator will only hit you (a running target) 4 in 100 times; and even then, it most likely WILL NOT be a vital organ. RUN!

8. As women, we are always trying to be sympathetic: STOP IT! It may get you raped, or killed. Ted Bundy, the serial killer, was a good-looking, well educated man, who ALWAYS played on the sympathies of unsuspecting women. He walked with a cane, or a limp, and often asked "for help" into his vehicle or with his vehicle, which is when he abducted his next victim.

Posted by Teacher, a resident of Palo Alto High School
on Apr 9, 2013 at 7:37 pm

FYI has some good points above, but misses the point of the Verde article: rape at Paly (and probably pretty much every high school) is linked to what our culture tells our children about gender roles. Also, while there are definitely rapes that occur in which the rapist is unknown to the victim, according to RAINN, 73% of rapes are perpetrated by somebody known to the victim.

Source: Web Link

It is important to be aware of your surroundings and prepared to defend yourself. However, a cultural shift is really what's needed to combat this rarely talked about problem.

Posted by parent, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Apr 9, 2013 at 8:00 pm

I imagine the victim can only hold the school accountable for looking into the rape if it occurs on campus which is more likely on a university campus, not a high school. Otherwise I would think it is the police department's responsibility. Please don't imply that this is another area where schools are failing our children. Parents are responsible for teaching their children what is right and wrong.

Posted by Mom, a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Apr 9, 2013 at 8:05 pm

Why wouldn't a high school student who has been raped report the crime to the police? The culture would change if there were consequences for criminal behavior.

Posted by parent, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Apr 9, 2013 at 8:17 pm

This is why rape is not reported: Web Link The victim is often vilified, particularly if the alleged rapist is popular or a sports hero.

Just google Stubenville and you'll see how the "alleged" rapists are defended.

Posted by Teacher, a resident of Palo Alto High School
on Apr 9, 2013 at 8:57 pm

@Mom: In an ideal world, there would be no reason why a rape victim wouldn't report a crime. However, victims who do report (or even tell people about it) can be shunned and ostracized, as @parent's link illustrates.

Also, the culture tends to portray women who have dressed provocatively and/or been drinking as having "asked for it," which is absurd. One of the excellent points made in the Verde article comes from a male student who was interviewed. He says of this idea of 'asking' to be raped, "People don't make bulls— excuses for any other crime.... I've never heard anyone say that someone got mugged because they were 'wearing a fancy watch,' for instance." From the mouths of babes. It makes me glad that this kind of teenaged boy exists (though it saddens me that according to the story, this is the view of the minority of males surveyed).

This brings up another point: this "boys will be boys"/"she asked for it" culture has negative consequences for males as well. We are basically telling our young (and older) men that they can't be mature and self-controlled enough to treat a woman with respect regardless of what she may have imbibed or chosen to wear. We send the message that women SHOULD be afraid of all men because, well, they can't control themselves. Just as this culture demeans women by reducing them to be sex objects (just look at the so-called "beauty" magazines in our supermarkets), men are reduced to slobbering, sex-crazed perverts. All things considered, women get the shorter end of the stick in this equation by a long shot, but I think that most people don't consider what these attitudes imply about men as well.

Posted by School Role?, a resident of College Terrace
on Apr 9, 2013 at 9:55 pm

What are the moral and legal responsibilities of schools toward protecting a victim, even if the attack occured offsite? If the victim might encounter subsequent harassment, as described in the Verde article, isn't it the school district responsibility to protect the victim?

Posted by Michele Dauber, a resident of Barron Park
on Apr 9, 2013 at 9:56 pm

Unfortunately "parent" you are incorrect. If you read the facts of the story, what happened to this victim was clearly a case of harassment and bullying based on protected status (sex). It is quite similar to what occurred to the victim of disability based bullying. Here is the relevant excerpt from the story:

"After telling a few friends, she started to get texts and calls from the people who were there that night. They told her to stop talking about it, told her it was her fault.

Then she started hearing from the rest of her circle of friends, who only made the situation worse.

"Everyone was making me feel like just a lying slut who got herself in this situation," she says. "Even though I knew that's not what happened, that's how people were making me feel."

Names like "attention whore," "liar," "drunk" and "slut" were thrown around in the gossip that surrounded her as she walked across the quad at school. Tina had a bit of a reputation, and the classic "slut-shaming" came into full effect as soon as people learned she had been drunk that night.

"These are people I used to consider my best friends," she says. "[They] treated me like a crazy person."

She needed a break from school to deal with her shock, and the time away from her peers didn't hurt either. But when she left, they followed her using the anonymity of social media. She received a barrage of Facebook messages and Tumblr posts telling her that she was just looking for attention."

The story goes on to tell about how the student had to leave Paly, like the victim in the disability bullying case. That, under the law, constitutes severe and pervasive harassment that created a hostile educational environment that deprived the victim of the opportunity to participate in her educational program. That violates both state and federal law.

The school had the obligation under the law to intervene effectively to stop the harassment so that the student could remain in the school. Yet in both of these cases, the harassment was not stopped and the victim left her school. These cases are not just analogous, they are identical and they point to the same set of problems.

Here is another way they are similar. The community is learning about them from the media because the victim was so poorly treated she went to the media for justice. There would be no media stories about "rape culture" if we did not have a pervasive, unrelieved, climate of illegal discrimination.

The story is harrowing and it is another piece of evidence that we have what the Weekly called a "systemic" failing to recognize and intervene effectively to stop bullying on the basis of protected status like sex, race, and disability.

PAUSD must have an open, transparent, and public investigation into what went wrong in the disability case, and now evidently in this case as well. How many such cases are there that did not end up in a newspaper?

Posted by Mom, a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Apr 10, 2013 at 5:53 am

Let's recall what happened in the Steubenville case-convictions. A victim who does not come forward cannot blame anyone else for the lack of consequences for the perpetrator.

Posted by Susan, a resident of Midtown
on Apr 10, 2013 at 6:53 am

Was rape proven by a rape kit examination in the cases mentioned? If not, it just becomes her story vs. his story. There have been many innocent men locked up, because she was believed, and he was not. DNA proved that it was not him.

Posted by PA Reads, a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Apr 10, 2013 at 7:08 am

@Susan: On the basis that neither of these rapes were prosecuted, I find it difficult to believe that a rape kit examination was used. That said, the identities of the men/boys in question is irrelevant to the story; these girls came forward to raise awareness about a cultural blindness to behavior that perpetuates rape, or "rape culture," not to lock up their rapists. Whether or not the young men in this story were verified as rapists, the fact remains that we are culturally unequipped to deal with cases like these, irrelevant of the perpetrators' identities, in which young girls are vilified/ostracized for seeking support when it is needed most. It is about what we can do to stop ambiguous cases like these involving alcohol, social pressure, naivete in which survivors of sexual violence are prone to lose the support of those around them.

Posted by boscoli, a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Apr 10, 2013 at 7:10 am

If a student is raped by a popular male student, she is very likely to become ostracized and isolated, while the rapist becomes even more popular. This tragic tradition is one of the reasons why student rape victims end up not pressing charges.

When you realize how many fabulously wealthy and influential parents we have in this town, parents who can easily afford hire the best attorneys money can buy and who would stop at nothing to protect a son suspected of rape, it's quite easy to understand why many victims would be intimidated.

Posted by Susan, a resident of Midtown
on Apr 10, 2013 at 7:24 am

Rape is a serious charge. It should be proven with a rape kit, before it is taken seriously. [Portion removed.]

Posted by Student, a resident of Palo Alto High School
on Apr 10, 2013 at 7:34 am


Like PA Reads said, I think you're missing the point of the story. As a student at Paly, despite our liberal student body, there's still a perception among some students that rape is okay if the girl was "asking for it" and that in that case it isn't even really rape. Sabbag's goal was to encourage us as a culture to question out ingrained beliefs about rape and to understand that it happens everywhere, not just in "rural, backwards" places. No one accused anyone by name, so the victim is not charging someone without proof. Additionally, the students in question are getting help, and I certainly think there's reason to believe their claims.

Posted by Bob, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Apr 10, 2013 at 8:03 am

While the claim that rape is sex that is non-consensual, it is also a crime. There are procedures that the raped individual must pursue to establish his/her claim to the assault—which includes pressing charges against the individual(s) perpetrating the crime if the identity of the individual(s) is known.

The problem with all charges of rape is proving that the sex was non-consensual. In this case, we are left with the following "facts":

"I'm asleep, but the kind of asleep where an alarm is going off in my head," junior Tina says.
"I'm only semi-conscious." Tina is in the back of the car with a senior guy she barely knows.
Despite her earlier protests, now she is too drunk to object and he is on top of her.
She can't stop him as he undresses her and takes full advantage.
"When I wake up again and I realize what's happening … I start crying.
I'm just staring out the back window of the car, silently crying."

There are few details in this story—other than "Tina" was drunk, and ended up in the back of a car with a "senior guy" she barely knows, having sex!

Was she drugged by this guy? Not according to the story—she seems to have drugged herself with alcohol..

Did she go out with a "buddy"? No information in the story?

How did she get into the car? Seems she went voluntarily.

Did she scream "stop"? Well, not from the details provided above.

Did she report the incident to the police? Yes, but did not press charges?

Why didn't she press charges? No details in the article. Presumably the police pointed out that they could no make a valid case of rape against the male involved—based on her behavior.

So—we are left with the question—why is this "rape", as opposed to "poor judgment"?

"Tina" proceeds to tell classmates about her situation. Under the circumstances—what did she expect that they would do? She was as responsible for this situation as he was—particularly since she got drunk and went with him voluntarily.

Perhaps there is a story here—but it has to do with a permissive attitude of parents toward parenting in Palo Alto that has resulted in high alcohol and drug use, cheating in school, and a general lack of respect for anything that we used to call "morality".

A couple of years ago a young girl was seemingly gang-raped by members of the baseball team of Foothill College. Former DA Delores Carr was unable to bring the case to court—claiming insufficient evidence. Even the State AG, upon review of the case, agreed with Carr. There was a very important moral to this story—bad things happen to young girls who put themselves in situations with drugs, alcohol, and other youths. [Portion removed.]

Claiming that "it's not my fault" has become the mantra of a generation. It's time for people to wake up, and start accepting responsibility for their actions.

Posted by bystanders a problem, a resident of Palo Alto High School
on Apr 10, 2013 at 8:05 am

I think there are some aspects of the Steubenville high school case that should be noted: extensive cellphone filming (of the rape victim), sharing on social media, high school males joking about the victim, and people standing by and doing nothing to help the victim. The sports jock culture in some high schools worries me....
The young woman did not show great judgment by (illegally) getting smashed on liquor - unless her drinks were spiked. I know of a college case wherein a young woman had her drink spiked, she ended out in public in a city park, and a STRANGER raped her out there in the middle of the night. Weird stuff happens, so young women in particular need to be watchful of their circumstances. This isn't about blaming the victim, just being cautious.

Posted by Michele Dauber, a resident of Barron Park
on Apr 10, 2013 at 8:07 am

Well I guess the apples didn't fall far from the trees. Sad.

Posted by Michele Dauber, a resident of Barron Park
on Apr 10, 2013 at 8:17 am

It occurs to me that I actually know of another story which has a similar character that I had forgotten until now. The sister of one of my daughter's friends from Gunn was the victim of relationship violence (some of which did occur on campus) and when she reported it, she was very severely bullied and harassed and had to leave school. The parents did complain and were incensed that their daughter who was the victim had to leave Gunn, while the perpetrator did not. In that case, like this one, the victim who came forward was severely bullied by peers. And like the other cases, she went to the media with her story and it is all public. I think she was on television. You can read it here: Web Link

She states: "The pivotal moment in my relationship came while at a party and he kicked me so hard that I was knocked unconscious. Everyone at the party was too afraid to call an ambulance or an adult, because my boyfriend was under-age and intoxicated. I was unconscious for six hours with a severe concussion and sustained two bruised ribs. In the morning I told my parents about my unhealthy relationship; my mom called the police. He was sent to Juvenile Hall.

Monday morning this was the talk of the school. Everyone was upset with me, not him, and felt I had gone too far in calling the police. Things were unbearable at school for the next few weeks. My house was egged repeatedly and the final straw was when I was physically threatened by his best friend. I left my high school that day and didn't return."

This incident also constitutes discrimination based on sex under federal law. Stalking, domestic abuse, and relationship violence are prohibited sex discrimination and the bullying and harassment and retaliation that victims experience as a result of filing a complaint can constitute illegal discriminatory harassment. This girl, like the rape victim, and the disabled child, were all chased from school by illegal discrimination.

Is this PAUSD's policy that the victim of bullying should find a new school, possibly at family expense, rather than intervening to stop the harassment? Is the policy of site-based control that leaves these incidents for management at the sites rather than escalating them to district level oversight resulting in parents and victims being run out of the school without apparent recourse? These parents could have pursued federal and state claims but meanwhile they had to protect their daughters.

What is PAUSD's real policy toward bullying victims? It appears to be "you're on your own. Leave."

Posted by bystanders a problem, a resident of Palo Alto High School
on Apr 10, 2013 at 8:21 am

Earlier this school year, the Stanford Daily had an article about rape on campus. A girl described a disturbing story (from last school year, I think) - she had been at an oncampus party, a fellow dorm resident offered to walk her back as it was dark, and he pushed her into some bushes and raped her - and several male students walked by and did nothing though they saw what was happening. It wasn't date rape and it wasn't stranger rape - it was acquaintance rape, apparently, based on trust of a seemingly ok guy who resided in the same dorm. I can't recall if the girl had been drinking but that didn't seem to be the main point - he easily overpowered her. My conclusion: stay in groups of trusted friends when possible.

Posted by Thanks to Verde, a resident of Charleston Meadows
on Apr 10, 2013 at 8:23 am

Verde has done a real service in taking on this issue. We have known one of the victims for many years and our hearts have gone out to her as she struggled with not only the emotional trauma of the event, but the subsequent harassment at school.
My question is, what policies does the district have to address this kind of harassment and what training is being provided by the district leadership? There seem to be too many parallels to the case that prompted the OCR investigation which identified inadequate district procedures and training to address harassment. This sure seems to be another example of where district leadership is required and sites should not be left to their own best understanding about how to deal wih it..

Posted by Mom of daughters, a resident of Crescent Park
on Apr 10, 2013 at 9:16 am

I had two friends who where raped over 30 years ago (one gang raped all night long after she was drugged and one who was pulled into a car at gun point raped and released, both by strangers). They both told me 30 years ago that the worst part was how society treated them after the rape(one her parents, the other her friends, family, police) and if they had known how they were going to be treated, they wouldn't have told anyone.

I grew up thinking that I could be raped some day and what would I do if I was raped. I didn't grow up thinking it was a RARE violent act. I grew up thinking it was a violent act that could happen to me. And as I got older, there was a sense of relief that now as an older woman it was less likely to happen to me now.

Great article by Lisie Sabbag. Proud that she and Paul Kandell took the steps to write about this very sensitive topic without pointing fingers or blame. Definitely gives you something to think about.

Posted by Mom of Highschool Child, a resident of Downtown North
on Apr 10, 2013 at 10:39 am

Oh my!!!!
People are passing judgement way too early - Nobody has reported a crime, nor is there any proof a crime was committed. I hope this article, is just opening up the lines of communication for our children, both boys and girls to discuss acceptable behavior. For both young men and young women, the lines of communication need to be very clear. And I know it does go both ways, and as someone mentioned, it is hard to know the facts unless you are there. As recently reported on the news, a young up-and-coming football star was just released from jail, wrongly accused of rape and was convicted, simply because the women said he did it. So, please don't pass judgement too early, allow the kids to openly discuss the issues - and allow them to remain kids~!!!!

Posted by Enough!, a resident of Charleston Gardens
on Apr 10, 2013 at 10:58 am

The Paly Rape culture extends to the college years too. High school attitudes and friends falling into old patterns and taking it too far when reuniting on break.

Posted by Dave, a resident of Crescent Park
on Apr 10, 2013 at 10:59 am

What no one will ever mention or address is the link between hardcore pornography and this "rape culture". Hardcore pornography regularly depicts rape. I learned about recently and think we should share this data with youth in Palo Alto.

Posted by Hmmm, a resident of East Palo Alto
on Apr 10, 2013 at 11:04 am

Mom - very good points. But don't you think that when rape is involved that they're not just kids anymore? Even when they have to discuss, think & worry on it as a group it definitely means they're soon leaving childhood behind. Rape culture is much worse now than when I was at Paly & when I was a sexual assault survivor advocate. How shamefully evil that it's become so much more common & vilifying toward the victims.

Posted by Jane, a resident of University South
on Apr 10, 2013 at 11:23 am

Good for you for starting the conversation!!!

And what can we do about influencing our entertainment culture, which more and more freely treats sex so casually as to make it meaningless, and rape then inflicts a minor event?

Posted by Not just students, a resident of Palo Alto High School
on Apr 10, 2013 at 11:31 am

A few years ago, a young single mother, an employee of my FIL, stopped at a restaurant on her way home from work to pick up dinner for herself and her daughter. This restaurant had a small bar, and while she waited for her meals-to-go to be prepared, she ordered a glass of wine. It was a Friday evening.

That was the last thing she remembered until she "came to" while driving to work Monday morning! She told her immediate supervisor, a woman, about her "lapse", because she realized she was late to work when she got to her office and saw the clock. The supervisor got suspicious and insisted she go to the nearest hoital emergency room and tell them the events leading up to this lapse.

The hospital did some blood tests and used a rape kit, and they also called police when they determined she had most likely been raped while under the influence os a "date rape" drug.

Unfortunately, due to memory loss, the perpetrator was never found, and due to the fact that she walked into the restaurant bar relatively early in the evening, there were no witnesses who remembered her there.

The resulting depression this young mother suffered caused her to lose interest in almost everything, and she found she could not concentrate on anything. A model employee before this incident, she started having excessive absences, and soon after, she quit her job. Neither her supervisor or my FIL were able to find out her whereabouts . it was as if she intentionally vanished.

Posted by Mom, a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Apr 10, 2013 at 12:08 pm

[Post removed by Palo Alto Online due to being repetitive with earlier post by same poster.]

Posted by Susan, a resident of Midtown
on Apr 10, 2013 at 12:17 pm

[Post removed by Palo Alto Online staff.]

Posted by pamom, a resident of Gunn High School
on Apr 10, 2013 at 12:36 pm

Rape is terrible, but there are cases where a high school student claims she was raped (by a popular male football player) when no such incident happened. Two or three weeks ago, there was such a case on 60 Minutes. This young man was just graduating from high school and was accused of raping his girlfriend when all he had done was kissed her (no sexual relations happened). He went to prison for five years. Why would she do such a thing? She received over a million dollars by suing the school.

This is also terrible when someone is falsely accused of rape which must be considered too when discussing the problems of rape.

Posted by OhlonePar, a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Apr 10, 2013 at 12:51 pm

I would consider both accounts rapes, but I also think neither would get past the level of reasonable doubt. In one case, the girl waited, semi passed out, while the boy went back and got a condom (and telling her he was getting a condom). Sounds like a good time to have said, "No." or gotten up and walked off. It's not clear to me in that episode that the guy thought it was nonconsensual. I don't like what happened and I hate that the girl got no support, but I also don't know that I'd want to send the boy to prison for it.

What really sticks out to me in all the situations is not so much the rape culture as the booze culture. What's with the masses of illegal drinking? Alcohol is clearly impairing the judgment and self-control of everyone involved in these awful situations. Also at work is the idea that having sex means you're a real man or a real woman. The current hook-up culture craze (which is less common than reported) doesn't help.

I don't actually blame the school for this--there are talks we need to have with our kids that aren't happening.

Posted by Well..., a resident of Barron Park
on Apr 10, 2013 at 1:17 pm

As it turns out, boys WILL be boys. Back in my day (mid-1960s in the southern U.S.) everyone understood you were not supposed to "do it" before marriage. Although many went ahead and did it anyway, at least that rule gave girls an automatic "out" if they chose to say no . These days, unfortunately, girls have no "outs" and i find that sad. Sex early in life is not nearly as wonderful, for girls, as it is for boys. In your mid-thirties, it's a different story. But at 18, 20, 25, or even in some cases 30, girls just aren't that into it. They need good legitimate excuses to say "no".

Posted by parent, a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Apr 10, 2013 at 1:20 pm

So sick of the "journalism" this year at Paly! So far this year I've had the displeasure of reading the stories about the culture of students smoking pot before dances to avoid breathalizers, the common use of Plan B as birth control per a facebook survey (not very journalistic if you ask me), the viewing of porn (where one boy used his real name and said "viewing porn helped his relationship", and now everyone's getting raped! I guess there just isn't anything postive happening at Paly. To Paly journalists--being controversial doesn't equal being good. I hate the direction you've gone this year!

Posted by guest, a resident of another community
on Apr 10, 2013 at 1:26 pm

This raises many disturbing issues. Congratulations to the student writers for initiating greater awareness of a complicated issue. Yes, rape is terribly wrong, as is bullying the victim, or false accusation. As a parent, teacher, and one-time rape victim, I offer a couple of suggestions.

Discussions of respect for others must begin in very early childhood, at home. Education about sexual activity & behaviors must begin at home, pre-puberty. Older kids are usually too embarrassed or reticent to speak about & freely question their parents about "sex".
In jr high, kids need to hear, in classrooms, that any forms of shared sexual activity, beginning with hugging & kissing, must be fully consensual. Girls must be empowered to say "No" and boys must be taught to understand that boundary.

It goes without saying that use of alcohol or drugs which lower inhibitions so dangerously in teens, and are illegal as well, cannot ever be facilitated or condoned by parents. Kids need to remember that Facebook is not an safe sounding board & that if an assault occurs, it should be reported immediately to a parent or other supervisory adult.

Posted by CrescentParkAnon., a resident of Crescent Park
on Apr 10, 2013 at 2:47 pm

I recall in the 70's a partying "friend" of mine telling me about how he and other people from our high-school class got a girl drunk at a party and took her into the bedroom of a students house and passed her around. This is no surprise. This is the socialization a lot of women get, particularly when differences in race or class weigh against her, and they have no one to talk to about it and since it is so hushed up they think they are the only ones, or even if not have nowhere to begin to process this.

I recently had another female friend relate how she was coerced, intimidated and "she thinks" raped by this same person in her own house at 17. The loss of control for the woman is not always obvious until years later sometimes. This stuff is hidden so that even people's friends do not know about what they do. Even the people themselves can be confused in some cases leaving a fuzzy anecdotal mess to confuse anyone who questions something that happened to them.

All of this was in the 70's when the only mass images of sex were Playboy, Penthouse, etc ... when you go looking for pornography on the web it's hardly any wonder people are even more sex crazed now. This is not a good time to be a kid growing up.

Posted by Susan, a resident of Midtown
on Apr 10, 2013 at 3:23 pm

Rape is rape. It is big time crime. It must be confirmed by a rape kit test, or it is not rape. [Portion removed by Palo Alto Online staff.]

Posted by Hmmm, a resident of East Palo Alto
on Apr 10, 2013 at 3:27 pm

Posting about exceptions, eg a wrongly convicted young rapist, does nothing to change the facts about sexual violence against women. It's not "boys will be boys." It's "rapists will be rapists." Of course people get wrongly accused & convicted. The reason why the witch hunts of Salem are so notable are due to their rarity as well as their drama. Rape & other types of sexual assaults are much more common. This needs to change - & it's not based on what the young ladies need to do - it's not all on them. Info abounds on how to try to stay safe if you're a woman, yet nothing is foolproof. What are the young men & their parents doing to change this culture??

Posted by stanford prof, a resident of Stanford
on Apr 10, 2013 at 3:56 pm

I must say that I am just deeply shocked at the adults posting here who are echoing the bullying comments of peers that ultimately drove the victim from Paly entirely. There are many posts here in our supposedly liberal, educated, community that are victim-blaming, skeptical, and downright judgmental and nasty. It is shocking. Whomever the person is who keeps harping on "rape kits" please desist from that. It is completely untrue that "It must be confirmed by a rape kit test, or it is not rape." First of all a rape kit only confirms the presence or absence of semen in the vagina. There are all kinds of sexual assaults, including the kind where the perpetrator uses a condom, that are not detected by rape kits. Furthermore, rape kits cannot detect whether or not there was consent. Rape kits as forensic tools are not proof of rape or not rape. They are just an evidence collection technique but there is other evidence including victim testimony. That is also evidence. [Portion removed by Palo Alto Online staff.]

Posted by anonymous, a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Apr 10, 2013 at 4:08 pm

Please give me a break! Shed light on this subject. Have you ever been date raped? Well, I have, years ago.

Did I report it? No. Did I do a rape kit? No. Does that mean I wasn't raped? NO!!!!

So Susan, unless you've been in my shoes or those of other women who have been raped. Your statment "It must be confirmed by a rape kit test, or it is not rape" has no merit in my eyes.

I woke up confused with a man on top of me. Was I drugged yes. Was I drinking the night before - yes, one drink and I ended up half naked with someone - that I knew - on top of me. (I'll refrain from specifics) I don't need to defend myself. I didn't ask for it, I didn't want it.

It has impacted my ENTIRE adult life.

I previously heard a story about a rape by an athlete at Paly from a former teacher. This story just confirms what I heard. As sickened as I am by the subject, I applaud the students who have the courage to create awareness around this very ugly crime.

Posted by Hmmm, a resident of East Palo Alto
on Apr 10, 2013 at 4:10 pm

Susan - let's be clear here. Sexual assault investigations are messy, emotionally & legally. A rape kit isn't necessary to arrest, charge and convict a rapist. There are many steps in proving a rape or sexual assault case. It's not either a she said/he said OR having a kit which confirms rape. The article isn't weak. This is a culture that MUST change - & rapidly. I'm not an expert, but I know more about this than you do due to training in advocating for victims of sexual and domestic violence, education to prevent both, so my opinion is more informed than yours. If you want to learn more, it's not hard to understand these crimes aren't handled the way that you want them to be.

Posted by maguro_01, a resident of Mountain View
on Apr 10, 2013 at 4:19 pm

One thread running through most or all of these stories is kids with a large or even essentially unlimited access to money. I know there are high school kids in PA who drop, say, $800 a month on plastic but don't pay essential bills except for maybe car insurance. Why doesn't someone ask how kids can afford cars, alcohol, and drugs - all expensive. There are also surely businesses where they can go and get cash with a bogus billing for something. Kids wouldn't be a lucrative market for drugs without so much cash to spend on them.

It is impossible to keep kids who have access to so much money out of trouble. It can't be done. You could put cameras everywhere, double the police force...none of it would work. You could make social services the parents of all kids, reduce all our everyday lives to some legal childhood...none of it would work.

Taking the money from them would help a lot. Perhaps a requirement that up to 18 or emancipation people had to spend plastic on special auditable accounts that would be audited randomly. Payments or pay checks would have to be direct deposited in the accounts. Such accounts could be arranged to sweep over some amount into savings accounts as well. Basically take them out of the cash economy. Parents who rent them motel rooms (remembering a scandal in Marin County) on prom night with their plastic would be subject to arrest.

If kids don't have enough money, they have to learn to save, set priorities, and make choices. Imagine that.

We have an economy where so many very large corporations are making so much money from juveniles that drug problems, even rape, and the like can be seen as collateral damage. If they didn't like the get the money away from them strategy, it couldn't happen. Another issue here is the California "Anglo" cultural breakdown. Not much can be done about that, eventually it takes care of itself after a disruptive period.

There is that old quote "Ill fares the land where wealth accumulates and men decay" - "decay" referring to character, of course. In Silicon Valley the most troubled population is being replaced, essentially.

Posted by Katy, a resident of Palo Alto High School
on Apr 10, 2013 at 4:27 pm


As a student on the publication in question, I can back up what "Student" said previously: Both sources have resources for support.
Additionally, I fail to see how not receiving confirmation from a rape kit means that, as you said, "it is not rape." Rape kits must be administered relatively soon after the rape; are you suggesting that if a victim cannot get access to one for any reason in the following 72 or so hours after the incident, they have no right to say they were raped?

Posted by Hmmm, a resident of East Palo Alto
on Apr 10, 2013 at 4:46 pm

maguro - good point. But there are some horrible gang rape cases, such as the one in Richmond a couple years ago where the rapists were not monied & spoiled.

Posted by Paly mom, a resident of Palo Alto High School
on Apr 10, 2013 at 6:16 pm

I applaud the Verde staff for the thought provoking and sensitive handling of the issue of date/acquaintance rape in high school. Part of why this culture continues is that the perpetrators are not aware that they are committing a violent crime. The Office for Civil Rights in an April 2011 Dear Colleague Letter defines sexual violence as "physical sexual acts perpetrated against a person's will or where a person is incapable of giving consent due to the victim's use of drugs or alcohol." Web Link

In "You can't tell me I wasn't raped", Ms. Sabbag relates two stories about young men who took advantage of their intoxicated victims. Neither victim asked to be raped.

Kudos to Mr. Kandell and Mr. Winston for supporting the journalists and to the ten victims who came forward to be interviewed. I hope that this story will raise the awareness among our teens and help change this culture.

Posted by Susan, a resident of Midtown
on Apr 10, 2013 at 7:11 pm

[Post removed by Palo Alto Online staff.]

Posted by stanford prof, a resident of Stanford
on Apr 10, 2013 at 7:36 pm


[Portion removed by Palo Alto Online staff.]

Journalism relies on first person accounts. Where the story is in doubt, journalists may request verification of some kind, such as other immediate outcry witnesses who can validate an account. There are many kinds of evidence -- circumstantial evidence, eyewitness testimony, direct victim testimony, physical evidence and other forms of corroboration. You have narrowly focused on DNA as the one and only valid form of evidence, probably from watching too many CSI episodes and being unable to tell TV from reality. But that is not true even in a court. And this is not a court. No one is being named, let alone convicted. The question here isn't "did John Doe do it." The question is "what shall we do about the fact that all these girls at Paly are giving credible evidence that they were (1) raped and (2) bullied as a result in what Emily Bazelon calls our "slut shaming" form of rape; and (3) hounded out of school because our district has no policy to protect them from this kind of hostile environment sexual harassment.

Now you are taking it to the next level by harassing not only the girls themselves but also the other students who are telling their stories. [Portion removed by Palo Alto Online staff.]

Posted by Verde Magazine Editor-in-Chief, a resident of Palo Alto High School
on Apr 10, 2013 at 8:18 pm


We were extremely attentive to the safety and well-being of our anonymous sources. We did not simply want to get their story and leave them to deal with the emotional aftermath. One of the sources (Tina) already has support from her family, counselors and therapist, as stated in the article. We have since connected Amy with guidance and counselor services and helped her call a crisis hotline. Throughout the process and after the article was released, we have been keeping in touch with these two girls and continue to support them however we can.

In addition, we are keeping a close watch on social media to combat those who attempt to speculate about the specific identities of our sources. Our aim is to generate discussion on the issue at large, not to focus on the identities in these specific stories when they could have been anyone.

Posted by Hmmm, a resident of East Palo Alto
on Apr 10, 2013 at 8:35 pm

It's wonderful that Verde & Stanford Prof have responded to Susan. Given her nastiness & the seriousness of the subject, I hope that the editors delete Susan's disturbing - & not adult - comments. The "teaching moment" here is if The Weekly will allow her comments to remain or not.

Posted by stanford prof, a resident of Stanford
on Apr 10, 2013 at 8:46 pm

Here is Emily's Slate column from today about the suicide of Rehtaeh Parsons, who hanged herself after a story that will be familiar to readers of the Verde article.

Web Link

In her case there was a photo of her assault, but the rest of the story -- the shaming, bullying "rape culture," the sense that she was at fault, all of that, will feel very familiar. This girl was obviously horribly traumatized by the assault and then horribly traumatized by the rejection she experienced in her community. This is serious business. In a community like Palo Alto, where suicide prevention has become a byword to not only defend victim blaming but to have adults engage in it anonymously on this board is not helpful, it is not community discourse, it is not civil, and it should be stopped and deleted. This thread should be locked and half of these posts should be taken down. This is just a continuation of the abuse of these girls, it is more cyberbullying this time being carried out under the auspices of a "community site" as if it is somehow civil dialogue rather than prurient trash talking of innocent and defenseless girls. [Portion removed by Palo Alto Online staff.]

Posted by parent, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Apr 10, 2013 at 9:19 pm

[Post removed by Palo Alto Online staff.]

Posted by Parent, a resident of Palo Alto High School
on Apr 10, 2013 at 10:14 pm

I haven't read through all these posts above, but the part that bothers me most is the tv media coverage.

There were reporters there from channel 7 yesterday and channel 2 today. Were there any more?

I am not sure if this is a low news week but the fact that the media think it is worth sending reporters two days running bothers me. Who told them? Do we want tv reporters at our school? They were there a couple of weeks ago due to 2 reports of weapons on campus.

I don't know how the media get to hear about this, but I for one would like less tv crews hanging around the school.

Posted by Parent, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Apr 10, 2013 at 10:25 pm

[Post removed by Palo Alto Online staff.]

Posted by Maeve Grogan, a resident of Community Center
on Apr 10, 2013 at 10:55 pm

This article has spurred quite a bit of response. I am glad. It means we are talking and thinking about an issue that has long been shushed. I hope we are talking with our children also and thanks to the students voicing their thoughts. Brains do not complete development until ~26, and some not even then. Until then, in my opinion, it is our responsibility as parents/community members to help that development along as best we know how. I think life is very messy (at least mine is). Mistakes happen everywhere, no matter how perfect we want life to be. This article opens the door to a very specific set of mistakes around our sexuality. There is so much to discuss with our children about this... how we view other people's boundaries and rights? how we handle the peer pressure to drink/drug? how we handle our internet viewing and what repetitive sexual or violent images do to our developing brain (what parts of the brain are stimulated)? how to be self-aware in frightening situations and who to call? The challenge is to engage these questions in a safe way, with a conversation that explores and shines a light into what might be a shadow area for my/your family. You'll know it's a shadow area because you may feel like avoiding the topic or have a pile of opinions on it and allow no others. The topic does not have to just be rape, it can be anything that everyone wants to hush hush on, drinking, gambling, lying, cheating, stealing... all the big no no things that seem to be church going, obvious no's until ... someone makes a public mistake and now it is in the limelight. Good journalism shines a light into these areas and really helps us think about them. Thank you to the Paly students and administrators who do not stifle their curiosity and caring. This is teaching at it's best, raising curiosity and conversation.

I would love to see our national public education system create an age appropriate curriculum on "self-awareness, mindfulness", that goes from k-12. Can you imagine what our schools would look like if we used all the latest information on brain development, developmental psychology and tools for self-awareness, like mindfulness training? In my son's fifth grade topic on brain development, I did see an explanation of the fight/flight response and how it over-rides higher mind function. I was so happy! But there was no real integration in place. I am hoping we are on the edge of this change and integration is coming. I think a rape is a violent crime with many deeper factors than just what someone was wearing, the chemicals ingested, or how they were looking for attention or peer approval. Our jails are full of rapists, traumatized people who are not even sure why they are violent. They don't remember back far enough to who or what initially traumatized/desensitized them and have just kept the cycle going. To the naysayers, science is showing this is fact. I hope the people involved in these cases get to understand that when trauma happens it is awful and feels like the world is ending, but that is our bodies protective defense and there are paths to wholeness and healing that can move through this, You don't have to live with the scars privately and hide from uneducated public judgement. Don't be afraid to find the best help you can and let them help you heal yourself. This goes out to all people who have experienced severe trauma in one form or another.

Posted by Mom, a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Apr 11, 2013 at 5:50 am

[Post removed by Palo Alto Online staff.]

Posted by boscoli, a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Apr 11, 2013 at 7:02 am

When ever very serious issues like rape, sexual assault and bullying are linked to Palo Alto schools, there are parents who instinctively rush to doubt, deny and kill the messenger. After all, it's just unthinkable that our perfect school district would experience the same problems that plagued lesser mortals. I was expecting some posters to cast doubt on the story and attack Verde, and I was not disappointed.

Posted by stanford prof, a resident of Stanford
on Apr 11, 2013 at 7:18 am

boscoli I agree with you and I don't think that this is an appropriate topic for an unregistered or unlocked anonymous thread. The incendiary combination of teen sexuality, rape, bullying, and our wonderful schools is not working out well. The victims who were bullied ionline by kids are now being bullied online by adults -- even more shameful if that is possible. [Portion removed by Palo Alto Online staff.] There is nothing civic-minded about an anonymous forum. It is occasionally interesting as a social science experiement, i.e., what will the liberals of PA say about gay rights behind the veil of anonymity? That has a kind of appeal, the same as watching a highway car crash, but since there are real girls with real feelings involved in this case, it's nauseating -- like realizing that you know the victims of the crash you are rubbernecking. [Portion removed.]

Posted by Mom, a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Apr 11, 2013 at 8:51 am

[Post removed by Palo Alto Online staff.]

Posted by Really Sad, and Disheartening, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Apr 11, 2013 at 9:22 am

Wow, what kind of parents raise children like this who rape their peers? Where is this society going if the teens of today are doing such acts in a city like Palo Alto? A really sad statement about PA culture. And people want to purchase homes here so their kids can attend the schools in such a city that appears to have many real problems in its school district...from allowing disabled kids to be bullied, to a "silent" rape culture, and multiple student suicides. The school district Administrators, teachers and parents of Palo Alto need to pay more attention to what's going on with their children in this city. What a sad statment.

Posted by Old fash mom, a resident of Community Center
on Apr 11, 2013 at 9:36 am

[Post removed by Palo Alto Online staff.]

Posted by stanford prof, a resident of Stanford
on Apr 11, 2013 at 9:44 am

[Post removed by Palo Alto Online staff.]

Posted by Sharon Cohen, a resident of Midtown
on Apr 11, 2013 at 11:13 am

Sharon Cohen is a registered user.


A woman does not need an "excuse" to say no. I don't think you quite understood the message of the Verde cover page: a girl should not "need good legitimate excuses to say 'no'". Saying that suggests that it is up to the man alone to decide whether a sexual encounter will happen, unless the woman has a valid excuse to refuse him. That is exactly the false type of thinking that we as a staff are trying to unveil. Thank you for helping us illustrate how prevalent this ignorant thinking is.

Posted by local gurl, a resident of Greenmeadow
on Apr 11, 2013 at 3:00 pm

local gurl is a registered user.

As a mother of a son who is now in his late twenties, he and I had many many conversations when he wsa a teenager about what situations he should avoid at all costs. #1 was not using a condom. TIED for #1 was NEVER EVER putting himself in a situation where he could be accused of inappropriate sexual conduct with a girl who was impaired by drugs or alcohol. That includes being drunk himself where his judgment was impaired and he was unable to make reasoned decisions for himself. No means no. Period.

I also believe that girls need to be taught that there should be no faltering when it comes to the message they send. No means no. It doesn't mean, "Well, I really shouldn't but . . . "

I was the victim of rape when I was a freshman in college. I went to a "big football school" and the perpetrator was well known on campus. I went to a party, had too much to drink, my friends left me there alone, and it spiraled from there. I screamed "no" . . . then he beat me up, with his buddies listening from the other room. They (minus him) then came to my dorm room the next day, begging me not to report it, and reminded me (as if I didn 't already know . . . ) that my report would end up on the front page of every sports page in the country. I didn't report it, surprise, surprise.

I have spent a lot of time talking with young girls (high school and college age) about my experience. The stats bear out the fact that most women know their rapists, and I hope sharing my story has helped at least one young woman understand the importance of caring for herself and her safety.

Thank you to the young Palo Alto journalists for bringing this issue back into the spotlight where it can be examined, discussed, and learned from.

Posted by Nadine Gordimer, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Apr 11, 2013 at 3:56 pm

Nadine Gordimer is a registered user.

Today "Talk of the Nation" NPR featured a story, "How parents talk to children about consent" that is worth listening to if only for the first five minutes.
Web Link

One of the featured guests Huffington Post blogger Shannon Bradley-Colleary, who was also a rape victim, spoke about a frightening phenomenon that is common among rape victims where they loose their ability to speak. She said that "in date rape scenarios they tend to progress in a way that you are uncertain if this is really happening to you and women have a tendency to actually [have] their vocal chords freeze." She goes on to describe how she struggled with her attacker for over twenty minutes but was only able to scream rape after she broke free from him. This phenomenon is confirmed by the second guest speaker Laurie Halse Anderson who wrote "Speak", a novel about teenage rape.

Silence does not mean yes.

Posted by Hmmm, a resident of East Palo Alto
on Apr 11, 2013 at 4:47 pm

Hmmm is a registered user.

Nadine - your post literally gave me chills. I want through something similar as those women & couldn't speak for hours, much less yell.

Local gurl - your post made me so angry on your behalf, I had to breathe deep. I'm glad you've raised your son so well. I hope that you've recovered as much as possible & are thriving.

Posted by Laura Ma, a resident of Downtown North
on Apr 11, 2013 at 4:51 pm

Laura Ma is a registered user.

Just completed mandatory sexual harassment training at work. Definition of sexual assault or rape used in training was simple and clear:

"When talking about sex, "consent" refers to a VOLUNTARY agreement to participate in a sexual activity. For a sexual activity to be consensual, BOTH participants MUST agree to it. Anyone who engages in a sexual activity is RESPONSIBLE for ENSURING their partner's consent. The FAILURE to obtain MUTUAL consent before engaging in sexual activity makes the activity a form of sexual assault or rape."

I agree with a few previous posts that it is really important for parents to talk to their children, boys and girls, about what is respectful, acceptable AND legal. The easiest starting point might just be sharing the definition of consent with them. Help them understand consent has to be mutual, silence is not "yes," and unable to say no is definitely NOT giving consent.

Sometimes parents forgot high schoolers are not little kids anymore, and their mistakes, even unintentional, could have big consequences. They may all become perpetrators unknowingly if they do not have a clear understanding of where the boundaries are.

Also, culture shifts often start at home. Unless you, as a parent, agree with the culture depicted in Verde's articles, please talk to your high schoolers seriously about this.

Posted by Verde Editor In Chief, a resident of Palo Alto High School
on Apr 11, 2013 at 6:09 pm

Verde Editor In Chief is a registered user.

Dear Palo Alto High School community,

Many of you are receiving the latest issue of Verde magazine in your mailboxes today. Please be mindful that the magazines you are receiving do not include the extended editors' note that accompanied all copies of the magazine distributed Tuesday on campus and which has been available with the digital version online at The Paly Voice (Web Link). Given that the Voice site is experiencing technical difficulties this afternoon, we have decided to paste that introduction in here. We request that you read it before commenting on any part of the package.

Thank you for your support of this difficult discussion.

Verde magazine editors, 2012-2013

"Dear Paly community,

Most societies don't talk about rape. We consider it a taboo, conditioning victims to feel ashamed about speaking out and forcing them to deal with the aftermath in silence. But the recent rapes committed in Steubenville, Amherst and New Delhi have forced us to examine how we deal with sexual assault.
Our cover package, to be released on Tuesday, April 9, examines the many facets of rape culture, from victim-blaming to flawed media coverage of rape to the old “boys will be boys" cliché. Lisie Sabbag's article “‘You can't tell me I wasn't raped'" tells the story of two rape victims and the overwhelming lack of support they received from the community. Sabbag also discusses the ways our culture teaches us to perceive rape as inevitable. Be mindful that this story deals with accounts of sexual assault, and may be an emotional trigger for some people. Please read on cautiously. In Will Queen's piece “Breaking the Silence," he offers a male perspective on the lack of discussion surrounding sexual assault. Finally, Savannah Cordova explains why rape jokes aren't funny in “Taking it Seriously."
Throughout the process of composing our cover package, our staff strove to practice objective reporting, as discussed in our editorial. Although we were unable to interview the boys directly involved in the stories we share, we tried to make up for it by including other male Paly voices. In particular, please read “From a different angle: a discussion with Paly guys" or Queen's story mentioned above that takes a male perspective on the issue. We are focused on the broader issue of rape culture in Palo Alto, not on pointing fingers at individuals.
We stress that all of the photo illustrations in our cover package were taken with models from our staff and are not connected with the sources in our stories. In addition, we've discussed this story with the survivors every step of the way. Everything printed has been approved by the victims who shared their stories, as well as experts in counseling for sexual violence and reporting sexual violence. On that note, we'd like to express our gratitude to the Ochberg Society for Trauma Journalism (Web Link), which is dedicated to responsible coverage of traumatic events, including rape coverage. The organization worked with us to make Sabbag's story show the best and most compassionate reporting possible. In writing this story, Sabbag also received help from the Student Press Law Center (Web Link), the Dart Center for Journalism and Trauma (Web Link) and a Poynter Institute course on “Reporting on Sexual Violence." (Web Link)
As many of you read Sabbag's story, you may see yourself or your friends or classmates in the anecdotes about the rape victims. With that being said, our aim is not to identify either the victims or perpetrators featured in the article. By publishing an article on rape culture, our goal is to increase discussion about the issue, not the individuals involved. You may know or think you know those featured in the article. Please don't name names or speculate as to the victims' or perpetrators' identities either in conversation or online. Not only does it detract from the goal of proactive discussion on rape culture, but it can be defamatory for both victims and alleged perpetrators as well. Speculation can quickly spiral into false accusations, which are damaging to people's lives. Additionally, in reporting this story, Sabbag drew from a number of cases similar to the ones depicted in the anecdotes. Any speculation is irresponsible and likely to be inaccurate. Again, our goal in publishing this article is not to point fingers, but to generate productive discussion about rape as an issue.
However, we aren't asking rape victims to stay silent. If you or someone you know has been sexually abused, you don't have to keep quiet. Get help by calling RAINN's National Sexual Assault Hotline at 1.800.656.HOPE or the local YWCA of Silicon Valley's crisis hotline 650.493.7273.You can also communicate with Palo Alto High School's on-campus Adolescent Counseling Services at 650.833.4244. Off-campus Adolescent Counseling Services can be contacted at 408.279.8228.
We don't want the conversation to stop here. If you have any comments on this package, responsible discussion should continue on the comment sections on the Paly Voice, the Verde Facebook page, and using the twitter hashtag #verderapeculture. Additionally, if you want your comments to remain private, please email any comments to If you want to contact the author of the feature article directly, you can do so at If you would like to direct a comment specifically to the Verde Magazine adviser Paul Kandell, email Verde and Paly faculty members are also working on additional efforts to provide forums for discussion of these issues on campus.
Finally, thank you to the editors at The Paly Voice, who have generously helped us post our work online while our own site is undergoing maintenance.

â€" Ana Carano, Sharon Tseng, and Evelyn Wang

Posted by Hmmm, a resident of East Palo Alto
on Apr 12, 2013 at 12:01 am

Hmmm is a registered user.

Heartbreaking: 3 teens arrested for assault after girl's suicide

This is in Los Gatos. They sexually battered her and humiliated her, so she committed suicide. Look at that beautiful young girl, now dead because coping with what happened, and its aftermath, was too much for her.

Web Link

Posted by Consent=YesPlease!, a resident of another community
on Apr 15, 2013 at 2:51 pm

Consent=YesPlease! is a registered user.

[Post removed by Palo Alto Online staff.]