Kids' Latest Schoolyard Game Will Make You Cringe

another playgroundA game played by millions of kids on the playground over the years took a disturbing turn at one Minnesota school this week. I would preface the details of "rape tag" by saying they're disturbing, but the name more or less says that, doesn't it? And yet, I'm neither surprised the kids in the fifth grade at Washington Elementary School in Minnesota invented the game nor terribly scared about what this says for the future of America.

Let me be clear: I don't think rape is funny. I don't think rape is a game. And I don't think fifth graders should be forcing their classmates to subject to being humped in order to escape being "frozen" in a game most of us knew as freeze tag. I also think parents can learn a good lesson from this.

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Like parents who were upset over kids in Georgia playing "slaves" on the playground just last week, folks worried about the game of rape tag are automatically ascribing malicious motives to these little kids. But we don't know that these kids have any idea what rape means. We don't even know that they know that forcing someone to be humped is inappropriate behavior.

What do we know? We know that kids make games out of things they don't understand. We know that kids hear words like "rape" on the news every single day.

We also know that by fifth grade, kids are starting to get an idea that the opposite sex is interesting. What's more, in fifth grade, kids want more than anything to be like the bigger kids. So they're going to start talking about sexual issues as if they know what they're talking about -- even when they don't.

Just last month, my friend was shocked to hear her 11-year-old referring to her friend's "slutty" clothing. But rather than over-react, she asked her daughter what she thought "slutty" meant. Turns out the kid actually thought it was interchangeable with "sexy."

Another friend caught her 9-year-old making a "dating guide" for her younger brother, complete with descriptors of the potential dates that used the words "sex abuse." Terrified that her child had somehow been abused, she dealt with it immediately, only to figure out the girl had heard the words on the news several times in the past few weeks (the Penn State scandal was at fever pitch at the time). She had no idea what she was saying, but it sure "sounded" adult to her.

Instead of writing these kids off as sickos in the making, this should be a sign that we need to be more careful about what our kids are exposed to. Fifth graders shouldn't have heard the word rape. Period. 

What word has your kid used that shocked you until you realized they had no idea what it meant?

 

Image via ell brown/Flickr

 

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