Laurie Halse Anderson’s SPEAK Silenced

If you haven’t followed the blogosphere, you might not know about this article that appeared in Springfield, Missouri’s News-Leader where Dr. Wesley Scroggins calls Anderson’s SPEAK “pornographic” and “smut.”

After 16 years teaching in a high school and 41 years living, I’ve seen plenty of young women destroyed by the SILENCE of date rape. Speak helped and is still helping remedy that outrage.
Unfortunately, the students of Republic ISD no longer have access to the book through their library. It’s been banned.

Anderson’s blog on the topic has sparked so much discussion I’m stunned.

The only way we’re ever going to stop date rape is by making sure every victim knows they’re not to blame and they have the right to TELL. We’ve got to stop letting the CRIMINALS win. Rape is a sex CRIME. It’s ugly and vile and destructive. Speak helps give girls the voice to say “this happened to me and you did it, and I won’t stand by and let you do it again.”

I wrote my letters to the admin of Republic ISD. When I did, I included this latest research that shows how pervasive a problem date rape is:

Teen dating violence most often takes place in the home of one of the partners. One in five of dating couples report some type of violence in their relationship. One of five college females will experience some form of dating violence. A survey of 500 young women, ages 15 to 24, found that 60 percent were currently involved in an ongoing abusive relationship and all participants had experienced violence in a dating relationship. One study found that 38 percent of date rape victims were young women from 14 to 17 years of age. A survey of adolescent and college students revealed that date rape accounted for 67 percent of sexual assaults.

Sixty-eight percent of young women raped knew their rapist either as a boyfriend, friend or casual acquaintance. Six out of 10 rapes of young women occur in their own home or a friend or relative’s home, not in a dark alley. More than four in every 10 incidents of domestic violence involves non-married persons (Bureau of Justice Special Report: Intimate Partner Violence, May 2001; other statistics from the U.S. Department of Justice).

Read more: http://www.livestrong.com/article/13801-teen-dating-violence/#ixzz10224DvKF

I ended my letters with this:

Don’t let the silence continue to hurt our teenagers. Read Speak, have your family members and maybe even someone from your clergy read it, then make a decision based on the actual content. If you still feel it is dangerous for your students, you must do as you see fit. But before you make any permanent decisions, google the response and see how many young women have been touched by the book. How it helped them reclaim their lives after a crime they’ve often had to pay several-fold for and are now paying for again.

I have no idea if the campaign to put Speak on the shelves will make a difference in Republic, but I hope and pray it keeps it on other shelves.

Stop the Silence. SPEAK!

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