Do I need to tell my 11 year old son what the word rape means?

iVillage Member
Registered: 08-31-2006
Do I need to tell my 11 year old son what the word rape means?
Sun, 10-14-2012 - 10:28am

My son had a friend sleep over last night and as they were playing each other on their DS's, the other little boy said, "See, I so raped you on that one.  Oh, look, I raped you again, dude!"  I was standing right there.  The other little boy clearly does not know what the word rape means but they are using it nonetheless. I immediately told the boy to stop and from the sound of my voice I think he was shocked I got so serious.  My son knows we're going to have a talk about something today but I'm not exactly sure how graphic I need to get about what rape means.  I don't want to say simply, "Don't use that word."  I want to let him know what a vile, destructive term it is.  But I don't think he even knows what intercourse is.  I feel like I'd be jumping too far ahead to tell him the exact meaning of rape.  What should I do?  And my husband doesn't think we should make a "federal case" out of with the other parent but I'm terrified they'll use the word outside our house. What should I do?

Avatar for turtleemom
iVillage Member
Registered: 07-25-2007

If you aren't prepared or he isn't ready to hear what rape is, then I would say something along the lines of...

Last night I overheard you and your friend playing.  Your friend was using the word rape.  He was using it incorrectly.  It's an ugly word for an ugly act.   Rape is a crime, like murder, and people go to jail for it.  It's an horrible thing and not a word that should come up during play. 

iVillage Member
Registered: 11-28-1999

You could say something like "rape is hurting someone and it's a crime" but I think at 11 you should be telling him about sex anyway.  You might think it's too young but do you want him to find out the facts of life from you & his dad or from kids at school, who are probably going to give him the wrong info or only partial info.  My son told me that in middle school there were kids having sex.  You don't have to give him all the graphic details but he should have an idea about how babies come into the world.  I also think that you might mention it to the other mom--then it's up to her to do what she feels is right.  You can just say something like "your [boy's name] was using the word "rape" while the kids were playing games.  I told the kids not to say that so he might think I'm mad at him.  I'm sure he didn't know what he was saying."

Community Leader
Registered: 07-26-1999
Welcome to the board! I agree with the other two posters, if you and your DH haven't even had the sex talk with your son yet, then it may be jumping ahead a bit and I would come up with just a high level explanation that its not an appropriate word to use and the be having the birds and the bees talk pretty soon with him. Have they had sex ed in school yet? He may know more than you think, but just may not have brought it up at all with you.
Avatar for bradleyteach
iVillage Member
Registered: 06-29-2001

I think you did the right thing in telling the other boy not to use that word. At middle school age, they hear gangsta slang or whatever and think it's cool and maybe don't know what that means or that it's demeaning to use the word in that way.  I would explain to your son that it's an assault on a woman against her will and not to be used to say that you beat another person in a game.  I would also tell the other kid's mother, who may or may not know or care.  Good luck


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