Marina Bernheimer: Words matter, particularly in reporting on rape |

Marina Bernheimer: Words matter, particularly in reporting on rape

As the executive director of Child Advocates of Nevada County, I’m deeply disturbed by the headline and text of a recent article, “Grass Valley man sentenced to 15 years in child sex case.”

The story is about a child who was repeatedly raped by a 51-year-old man for months. Referring to rape as “child sex” is an odd and inappropriate choice of language that minimizes and whitewashes the violent crime to the point of disappearance. Rape is not sex. The article goes on to describe a “non-consensual relationship” between the two. Children cannot legally provide consent. Calling this a “relationship” downplays the seriousness and suggests something much more benign than child rape.

At no point in the article were the words “rape” or abuse ever used by Liz Kellar to describe the incident, (except to name the legal charge being brought against the rapist). I implore The Union to do a better job in future articles in order to avoid victim blaming and to offer a more honest and clear representation of child abuse when it occurs in our community.

Words matter.

Marina Bernheimer

Nevada City

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