Oregon Teacher Continues Fight to Stay Armed

Violence against womenYesterday’s story about South Medford High teacher Shirley Katz legal fight to carry a 9mm glock to at school makes me think about the gun crisis in our culture – as well as the gendered violence crisis of our times.

After a couple of weeks of shooting sprees, including the one last week here in Oregon in which a stalker/ex-husband went on a shooting spree, don’t you wonder who isn’t armed these days.  Not to mention why an ex-wife might fear for her life.

And then if you consider Katz motive for being armed:

Katz had said she wanted to carry her Glock 19, a 9 mm pistol, to protect herself against threats from her ex-husband but also said she believes all teachers should be allowed to carry guns to defend against intruders. The ex-husband denied the allegations, but a judge granted a restraining order against him that expired in September 2007. The restraining order was not renewed.

Things sort of piece together into a pretty unpleasant puzzle. Women are never safe from violent crime in this country, and with our present gun culture taken for granted, Ms. Katz may feel that being armed is her only hope against a pending violent crime.

And really, these fears are rational and founded, when you acknowledge that domestic violence along with gendered violence are at a point where 3 women per day are killed by current or former ‘intimate partner’ and statistically a woman somewhere in the United States is raped every two minutes and somewhere in the U.S. a woman is battered every 15 seconds.

Considering why a teacher might think carrying a handgun into a high school is necessary becomes an important cultural question, rather than a sensational news story about one woman in Medford. What are we doing as a society to even contemplate, let alone address the rate of violence directed at women within the United States? What are we teaching our girls and our boys about the world they are operating in when it comes to gender and assault? When will we begin a national / not a woman led or a woman only / but a national discussion on this educational and community wide crisis?

Below are a few statics posted at Take Back the News about the gendered nature of violent crimes in the United States that could play a part in a female teacher’s decision that she must arm herself if she hoped to survive.

• Every hour in the United States, 28 acts of rape are committed.
Rennison, Callie. (February 2003). Intimate Partner Violence, 1993-2001. Washington,
DC. Bureau of Justice Statistics.

• 3 out of 4 American adolescents who were sexually assaulted were victimized by someone they knew well. 13% of sexual assaults were reported to police, 6% to child protective services, 5% to school authorities, and 1/3% to other authorities. 86% of sexual assaults went unreported.
National Institute of Justice (2003). Youth Victimization: Prevalence and Implications.
Washington DC. U.S. Department of Justice.

• In 2003, there were 198,850 victims of rape, attempted rape, or sexual assault. Of these approximately 199,000 victims, about 81,000 were victims of completed rape, 61,060 were victims of attempted rape, and 80,910 were victims of sexual assault. Only 39% (about 1 in 3) of rapes/sexual assaults were reported to law enforcement in 2003.
Bureau of Justice Statistics (2003). National Crime Victimization Survey. Washington DC.
U.S. Department of Justice.

• Research shows that those between the ages of 12 and 34 are at the greatest risk of being raped or sexually assaulted. The risk peaks in the late teens. Females aged 16-19 are 4 times more likely than the general population to be victims of rape, attempted rape, or sexual assault.
Bureau of Justice Statistics (2000). National Crime Victimization Survey. Washington DC.
U.S. Department of Justice.

• While the numbers vary from study to study, most research suggests that 10-15% of all males will be sexually violated at some point in their lifetimes. That translates into tens of thousands of boys and men assaulted each year, alongside hundreds of thousands of girls and women.
Men Can Stop Rape (2001). Male Survivors: What You Should Know About Men Who Have Been
Sexually Assaulted. Available online: http://www.mencanstoprape.org

• Approximately 5% of completed and attempted rapes committed against college students are reported to the police.
Fisher, B.S., Cullen, F.T., & Turner, M.G. (2000) The Sexual Victimization of College Women
(NCJRS Publication NO. 1882369). Washington DC. U.S. Department of Justice, National
Criminal Justice Reference Service.

• In 41% of all violent crime experienced by college students, the offender was perceived to be under the influence of drugs and/or alcohol.
Baum, K. & Klaus, P. (January 2005). Violent Victimization of College Students, 1995-2001.
(NCJRS Publication NO. 206836). Washington DC. U.S. Department of Justice, Office of
Justice Programs, Bureau of Justice Statistics.

• In a study of female rape victims, a total of 73% were extremely fearful either at the time of the rape or afterwards about contracting HIV due to the forced sexual intercourse.
National Institute of Justice (2003). Youth Victimization: Prevalence and Implications.
Washington DC. U.S. Department of Justice.

• Over the course of an average 5 year college career, between 20 and 25% of women students are raped. Larger numbers are stalked and majorities are sexually harassed every academic year. Fewer than 5 in 100 rapes are reported, and of those 5, in only 1 is the perpetrator prosecuted. Less than half of those prosecuted are convicted. Of that half of the 1% who are convicted, only half serve significant time in prison.
Fisher, B.S., Cullen, F.T., & Turner, M.G. (2000) The Sexual Victimization of College Women
(NCJRS Publication NO. 1882369). Washington DC. U.S. Department of Justice, National
Criminal Justice Reference Service.

• As a result of an audit of 25 colleges, the U.S. Congress General Accounting found that 23 out of the 25 (92%) did not properly report their crime statistics, particularly incidents involving rape and sexual assault.
Leinwand, D. (2000). Campus Crime Underreported: Colleges Have Been Caught Misreporting
Violent Statistics. Now, an Upgraded Law Penalizes $25,000 for Each Wrong Figure. USA Today.

• 55% of female students and 75% of male students involved in acquaintance rape admit to having been drinking or using drugs when the incident occurred.
Facts on Tap (2005). American Council for Drug Education. Available online:
http://www.factsontap.org

*Statistics gathered by Nassau County Coalition Against Domestic Violence, Inc., Hempstead, NY. Fall 2005.

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Filed under Gender, Heterosexism, School Violence, Sexual Assault

One response to “Oregon Teacher Continues Fight to Stay Armed

  1. Pingback: ‘You’re not going to be gay anymore.’ « Schooling Inequality