A high school biology assignment made kids figure out who 'raped Suzy.' Yes, really.

According to RAINN, teen girls between the ages of 16 and 19 are four times more likely to be victims of rape, attempted rape, or sexual assault. And as if the increased likelihood of sexual assault wasn't bad enough, many high school students are bombarded with reminders about their lack of security. Some are even reminded of the dangers through their homework.

Yes, really.

A teacher at Klein Collins High School in Spring, Texas is in hot water after giving 9th grade students a take-home test on a recent lesson on DNA. Students were asked to figure out who "raped Suzy" by studying DNA evidence results taken from the scene of the crime.


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"Suzy was assaulted in an alley and is a victim of rape. The police collected a sample of sperm that was left at the crime scene and now have three suspects in custody. Which of the suspects raped Suzy?" the question read.

Students were then expected to compare the DNA samples of three suspects against the test results of a criminal. On top of being a wildly inappropriate question to make fourteen and fifteen-year-olds answer, the question help perpetuates the myth that rapes are committed by strangers jumping out at women in dark allies. In reality, three out of four rapes are committed by someone the victim already knows, according to RAINN.

A mother sent a copy of the test to KPRC 2 Houston, and the question went viral.

Parents were understandably livid. "It's upsetting and I know girls this age, just the thought ... they know that rape is forced non-consensual sex and that upsets them," Cookie von Haven, a mother of a 10th grader at the school, told KPRC. "That's why I can't fathom a teacher putting that on a test."

Dana Duplantier, the parent of a 9th grader, wondered how the teacher was able to get away with asking the students such a controversial question. "Wouldn't (the teacher) have to get that approved by the school board or teachers or something to put that in there," she told KPRC.

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It turns out, the teacher didn't get approval from the school board. The question was conceived by the individual teacher and does not appear on a district-wide curriculum. 90 students in total received the take-home test.

In fact, the school district isn't happy about the question appearing at all. "The assignment is not part of the District's approved curriculum and is by no means representative of the District's instructional philosophy. The District has investigated the source of the materials and appropriate corrective action has been taken," Klein Independent School District said in a statement.

It would be wonderful to live in a world where high school students didn't have to fear sexual assault, but in the meantime, they shouldn't be asked to answer questions that reduce the gravity of rape to multiple choice.

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Shanda Lynn Poitra was born and raised on the Turtle Mountain Reservation in Belcourt, North Dakota. She lived there until she was 24 years old when she left for college at the University of North Dakota in Grand Forks.

"Unfortunately," she says, "I took my bad relationship with me. At the time, I didn't realize it was so bad, much less, abusive. Seeing and hearing about abusive relationships while growing up gave me the mentality that it was just a normal way of life."

Those college years away from home were difficult for a lot of reasons. She had three small children — two in diapers, one in elementary school — as well as a full-time University class schedule and a part-time job as a housekeeper.

"I wore many masks back then and clothing that would cover the bruises," she remembers. "Despite the darkness that I was living in, I was a great student; I knew that no matter what, I HAD to succeed. I knew there was more to my future than what I was living, so I kept working hard."

While searching for an elective class during this time, she came across a one-credit, 20-hour IMPACT self-defense class that could be done over a weekend. That single credit changed her life forever. It helped give her the confidence to leave her abusive relationship and inspired her to bring IMPACT classes to other Native women in her community.

I walked into class on a Friday thinking that I would simply learn how to handle a person trying to rob me, and I walked out on a Sunday evening with a voice so powerful that I could handle the most passive attacks to my being, along with physical attacks."

It didn't take long for her to notice the difference the class was making in her life.

"I was setting boundaries and people were either respecting them or not, but I was able to acknowledge who was worth keeping in my life and who wasn't," she says.

Following the class, she also joined a roller derby league where she met many other powerful women who inspired her — and during that summer, she found the courage to leave her abuser.

"As afraid as I was, I finally had the courage to report the abuse to legal authorities, and I had the support of friends and family who provided comfort for my children and I during this time," she says.

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One little girl took pictures of her school lunches. The Internet responded — and so did the school.

If you listened to traditional news media (and sometimes social media), you'd begin to think the Internet and technology are bad for kids. Or kids are bad for technology. Here's a fascinating alternative idea.

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Norton

This article originally appeared on 03.31.15

Kids can innovate, create, and imagine in ways that are fresh and inspiring — when we "allow" them to do so, anyway. Despite the tendency for parents to freak out because their kids are spending more and more time with technology in schools, and the tendency for schools themselves to set extremely restrictive limits on the usage of such technology, there's a solid argument for letting them be free to imagine and then make it happen.

It's not a stretch to say the kids in this video are on the cutting edge. Some of the results he talks about in the video at the bottom are quite impressive.

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