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Annie Fox, M.Ed., is an internationally respected parenting expert, award-winning author, and a trusted online adviser for tweens and teens.

To the parents of a rapist

March 11, 2014

Oh, hallowed halls of enlightened education

Oh, hallowed halls of enlightened education

I’ve been following the story out of Dartmouth about a female student who was raped shortly after her name appeared in a “Rape Guide” posted on an anonymous Dartmouth student blog. There is so much that’s vile about the particulars of this case and the overall campus (and national) culture that permits and promotes these attitudes and acts, I do not know where to begin. As a parent educator, this feels like a logical place:

Dear Mom and Dad,

By now you know that your son is a rapist. Of course you are shocked that the young man you raised with such love and care and attention, the one who succeeded so brilliantly throughout his school years that he ended up at Dartmouth, is now revealed to you, your family and all your friends as a violent, callous person. A rapist. Not a word anyone wants on their son’s resume. And not only is he a rapist, but he has been encouraging his classmates to be rapists.

How heart-sick you must be. Undoubtedly you remember how thrilled you were when the Dartmouth letter of acceptance arrived. You celebrated, as a family. You had such dreams for your son. And now, you find that he’s been spending time, in between classes and study sessions, writing a “Rape Guide,” using his considerable verbal skills (showcased in those outstanding SAT scores) to craft descriptive prose like this: “Increase the alcohol you give her each time. Then one such day, go for it. Preferably, invite her to your room. Get touchy with her, she likes that. As you guys get drunker… maybe spank her, you know, “jokingly” of course. She might be reluctant. Just tell her to relax.  Keep on going. Start groping her and stripping her down. Does this sound rapey? It really isn’t, trust me. She just likes playing hard to get. I know. I’ve been there.”

My heart goes out to you because you are suffering. You must be grieving for the loss of your “ideal” son. You must also be absolutely baffled that your boy could be such a calculatingly, cold-hearted misogynist. And through the blizzard of your emotions and disbelief, you are probably wracking your brains looking for answers to these questions: What did I do wrong? How could my son have thought that rape was OK? How is it possible that he could have such little regard for the feelings of another person? How could my child, who grew up in this family, believe that he and his fellow male classmates have the right to treat women with such contempt? Where did he get these values? What do I say to him now? How can I look at him without utter disgust? What can he say or do that will make this better?

I usually have lots of answers for parenting questions. I don’t have any answers for these.

Please get some family counseling. You’re going to need it.

I wish you strength during this terrible time. You’re going to need plenty of that too.

Filed under: Cruel's Not Cool,Parenting,Social Justice — Tags: , , , — Annie @ 1:13 pm


  1. Thanks for bringing my attention to this; I’ve been out of the internet loop for a few weeks.
    Unfortunately, you know that, being products of the same culture that produced their son, there’s a significant possibility that the parents don’t believe he’s done anything wrong. Clearly, she was asking for it, somehow. She led him on, or broke his heart, or SOMETHING that puts the blame on her, because harassment can be justified. I certainly hope they don’t think that way, but I guess that if they do, at least this doesn’t hurt them.

    Comment by MR Graham — March 12, 2014 @ 5:28 pm

  2. MR Graham, I haven’t heard anything about how the rapist’s parents are actually responding to this. I don’t believe the young man’s name has been released to the media. As protective as all parents can be, though, it’s difficult for me to imagine, in the face of the damning evidence of the “Rape Guide” that they could possibly “justify” their son’s actions.

    Comment by Annie — March 12, 2014 @ 5:34 pm

  3. It is important to note the offending post referred to in the Ultraviolet petition was authored by a single individual and did not appear on a Dartmouth-hosted site, nor is it one run by Dartmouth students. The post was removed and the author, who is not presently enrolled, was identified and faces the College disciplinary process.
    Further, we investigate every instance of sexual assault reported to the College and offer multiple levels of support and resources to every survivor. In this particular case, no report of sexual assault has been made to the College by the individual. We continue to remain in contact with her to ensure she is getting all of the support we can provide.
    Last week Dartmouth posted for a comment a new policy that would make expulsion mandatory for cases of rape. (More information on the policy proposal can be found here:

    Comment by Dartmouth — March 18, 2014 @ 7:20 am

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