Skip to main content

Teach young men to treat women with respect

By Katie Hanna and Monika Johnson Hostler, Special to CNN
January 5, 2013 -- Updated 1848 GMT (0248 HKT)
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
October 20, 2014 -- Updated 1329 GMT (2129 HKT)
Cornell Belcher says the story of the "tea party wave" in 2010 was bogus; it was an election determined by ebbing Democratic turnout
October 20, 2014 -- Updated 2012 GMT (0412 HKT)
Les Abend says pilots want protocols, preparation and checklists for all contingencies; at the moment, controlling a deadly disease is out of their comfort zone
October 20, 2014 -- Updated 0336 GMT (1136 HKT)
David Weinberger says an online controversy that snowballed from a misogynist attack by gamers into a culture war is a preview of the way news is handled in a world of hashtag-fueled scandal
October 20, 2014 -- Updated 1223 GMT (2023 HKT)
Julian Zelizer says Paul Krugman makes some good points in his defense of President Obama but is premature in calling him one of the most successful presidents.
October 20, 2014 -- Updated 0221 GMT (1021 HKT)
Conservatives can't bash and slash government and then suddenly act surprised if government isn't there when we need it, writes Sally Kohn
October 20, 2014 -- Updated 1228 GMT (2028 HKT)
ISIS is looking to take over a good chunk of the Middle East -- if not the entire Muslim world, write Peter Bergen and Emily Schneider.
October 20, 2014 -- Updated 1300 GMT (2100 HKT)
The world's response to Ebola is its own sort of tragedy, writes John Sutter
October 17, 2014 -- Updated 2033 GMT (0433 HKT)
Hidden away in Russian orphanages are thousands of children with disabilities who aren't orphans, whose harmful treatment has long been hidden from public view, writes Andrea Mazzarino
October 18, 2014 -- Updated 1722 GMT (0122 HKT)
When you hear "trick or treat" this year, think "nudge," writes John Bare
October 18, 2014 -- Updated 0442 GMT (1242 HKT)
The more than 200 kidnapped Nigerian schoolgirls have become pawns in a larger drama, writes Richard Joseph.
October 17, 2014 -- Updated 1345 GMT (2145 HKT)
Peggy Drexler said Amal Alamuddin was accused of buying into the patriarchy when she changed her name to Clooney. But that was her choice.
October 16, 2014 -- Updated 2043 GMT (0443 HKT)
Ford Vox says the CDC's Thomas Frieden is a good man with a stellar resume who has shown he lacks the unique talents and vision needed to confront the Ebola crisis
October 18, 2014 -- Updated 0858 GMT (1658 HKT)
How can such a numerically small force as ISIS take control of vast swathes of Syria and Iraq?
October 17, 2014 -- Updated 1342 GMT (2142 HKT)
How big a threat do foreign fighters in Syria and Iraq pose to the West? It's a question that has been much on the mind of policymakers and commentators.
October 17, 2014 -- Updated 1221 GMT (2021 HKT)
More than a quarter-million American women served honorably in the Iraq and Afghanistan wars. Now they are home, we have an obligation to help them transition back to civilian life.
October 16, 2014 -- Updated 2027 GMT (0427 HKT)
Paul Begala says Rick Scott's deeply weird refusal to begin a debate because rival Charlie Crist had a fan under his podium spells disaster for the Florida governor--delighting Crist
October 16, 2014 -- Updated 0407 GMT (1207 HKT)
The longer we wait to engage on Ebola, the more limited our options will become, says Marco Rubio.
October 15, 2014 -- Updated 1153 GMT (1953 HKT)
Democratic candidates who run from President Obama in red states where he is unpopular are making a big mistake, says Donna Brazile
October 16, 2014 -- Updated 0429 GMT (1229 HKT)
At some 7 billion people, the world can sometimes seem like a crowded place. But if the latest estimates are to be believed, then in less than a century it is going to feel even more so -- about 50% more crowded, says Evan Fraser
October 20, 2014 -- Updated 1653 GMT (0053 HKT)
Paul Callan says the Ebola situation is pointing up the need for better leadership
October 15, 2014 -- Updated 2245 GMT (0645 HKT)
Nurses are the unsung heroes of the Ebola outbreak. Yet, there are troubling signs we're failing them, says John Sutter
October 15, 2014 -- Updated 1700 GMT (0100 HKT)
Dean Obeidallah says it's a mistake to give up a business name you've invested energy in, just because of a new terrorist group
October 15, 2014 -- Updated 2301 GMT (0701 HKT)
Fear of Ebola is contagious, writes Mel Robbins; but it's time to put the disease in perspective
October 14, 2014 -- Updated 1744 GMT (0144 HKT)
Oliver Kershaw says that if Big Tobacco is given monopoly of e-cigarette products, public health will suffer.
October 18, 2014 -- Updated 1335 GMT (2135 HKT)
Stop thinking your job will make you happy.
October 15, 2014 -- Updated 0208 GMT (1008 HKT)
Ruben Navarrette says it's time to deal with another scandal involving the Secret Service — one that leads directly into the White House.
October 14, 2014 -- Updated 1125 GMT (1925 HKT)
Americans who choose to fight for militant groups or support them are young and likely to be active in jihadist social media, says Peter Bergen
October 13, 2014 -- Updated 1303 GMT (2103 HKT)
Stephanie Coontz says 11 years ago only one state allowed same sex marriage. Soon, some 60% of Americans will live where gays can marry. How did attitudes change so quickly?
October 14, 2014 -- Updated 2004 GMT (0404 HKT)
Legalizing assisted suicide seems acceptable when focusing on individuals. But such laws would put many at risk of immense harm, writes Marilyn Golden.
October 13, 2014 -- Updated 1307 GMT (2107 HKT)
Julian Zelizer says the issues are huge, but both parties are wrestling with problems that alienate voters
October 13, 2014 -- Updated 2250 GMT (0650 HKT)
Mel Robbins says the town's school chief was right to cancel the season, but that's just the beginning of what needs to be done
October 11, 2014 -- Updated 1543 GMT (2343 HKT)
He didn't discover that the world was round, David Perry writes. So what did he do?
ADVERTISEMENT