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“Beartown” is just a story, but the threat of assault is real

, Madeline Leaño ‘22, Olga Rocio Rivas ‘22, Natalia Ruan ‘21, and Ainsley Topping ‘21

Carrollton discusses the horrible reality of sexual assault in activity groups following the community read of the novel “Beartown” by Fredrik Backman, and a presentation by award-winning investigative journalist, Rachel Dissell.

On October 1, 2018, Dissell spoke with Carrollton’s upper school community to raise awareness about sexual assault, how common it is, how underreported it is, and how to prevent it. She discussed a story she wrote in 2012 that occurred in Steubenville, Ohio involving the rape of a high school girl by a teen athlete.

“This summer as I read Beartown, which I think many of you were reading, I thought a lot about Steubenville. There are so many parallels with Beartown,” said Dissell. “The elevated importance of a sports team in a depressed town, special attention given to some of the athletes, the taking of the sides, the very public debate about such an intimate and traumatic event, can rip a community apart in ways that are very hard to repair.”

Ms. Dissell’s talk kick-started Carrollton’s community discussion where students met in small groups to talk about how to prevent sexual assault and help keep friends safe. In a schoolwide survey, one respondent wrote, “I believe that the entire process beginning with the book read, through Ms. Dissell’s presentation, and the discussion groups has been a positive motivator for change and a very poignant message.”

 

“Real stories tend to stick more in people’s minds because we can put ourselves into the shoes of the characters/people in the story. Additionally, when a story shocks or impresses us, we most likely are to share it with someone, therefore spreading the message even more. This is why “Beartown” was a perfect discussion point,” said a Carrollton student discussing the importance of the book.

 

 

According to the National Sexual Violence Resource Center, 63% percent of all rapes aren’t reported making it the most under-reported crime, and one out of every five women are raped sometime in their lives.

“We can all be advocates for justice and change and have the power to make a difference,” wrote a Carrollton student.

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