Sex, Drugs, And The World Cup

Written by Lisa Bleich.

My husband and I sat smooshed together on bench surrounded by a 1,000 eager fans watching the final match of the World Cup out an outdoor Biergarten in Berlin.

Our legs touched the spectators of the table directly in front of us, a group of three American college students and two young Danish men who had come to Berlin for the weekend to watch Germany’s anticipated win.

“In Copenhagen, we just make up drinking games for anything just to get drunk.  Want to join our game?  We’re drinking every time the crowd cheers.” One of the guys proposed to their American table mates.

“Sure, why not?” They replied.

They continued to banter and flirt, the charming, gregarious Dane engaging everyone around him in conversation including us.  (We were thankfully not invited to play the drinking game!)

Each cheer, the Danish young man reminded the girls to drink and they obligingly took a sip, laughing at how they would soon need another beer.

As we left the celebration of Germany’s victory, my husband and I joked about how the Danish boy was quite charming, but totally full of it.  My husband commented, “He just wanted to get laid.”  I chuckled and agreed, both of us wondering if the girls were able to see through his charm. We thought of it as harmless fun.

I came home the following day to a barrage of e-mails regarding the recent article in the NY Times detailing a sexual assault case  at Hobart and William Smith Colleges, small liberal arts colleges in upstate New York. HWS is one of 67 colleges  under investigation for poor handling of sexual misconduct.

Click here for HWS’s president’s response.

I felt a deep sense of sadness for the victim and shook my head in wonder at how this behavior can be so prevalent.  And rethought the idea of harmless fun.

Moving Away From the Blame Game

Much of the discussion has been about trying to place blame: blame on colleges for poor handling of the situation; blame on fraternities for promoting and engaging in excessive drinking and a “rape culture”; blame on the victim for over-drinking and inviting unwanted attention.

While one of the first things we learned in business school is that you must identify the problem before developing a solution, working on punishment after the fact will never be as positive an outcome as preventing it before it happens.

Bystanders Make a Difference

Here is a great article on how bystander training can help prevent sexual assaults.

One of the victim’s friends at HWS actively tried to step in, but unfortunately he was too late.

Summit on Sexual Assault

This article highlights the key speakers and discussions at the first Summit on Sexual Assault hosted by Dartmouth University.

How Parents Can Make a Difference

As we prepare our kids to leave for college, let’s add a discussion about positive sex and drinking.  Some questions to ask and discuss with your child:

  • How would you define a positive sexual relationship?  What does that look like?
  • How would you define a negative sexual relationship?  How can you avoid this?
  • How would you know if you are in danger or in a risky situation?  What steps can you take to avoid one?
  • How will you know if something has been added to your drink?
  • What will you do if you are in a risky situation?  What is your back up plan?
  • What is your drinking tolerance?  How much is too much for you? How will you know?  What will you do if you find yourself drunk and over your limit?
  • What should you do if you see someone else in a risky situation?  What can you do to help prevent someone else from getting assaulted?
  • What is your plan?

It won’t be easy or comfortable, but I know I will have this discussion with my daughter before she leaves for college next month.  Please share questions or techniques that have worked for you.

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