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The Globe and Mail

Parents forced to discuss rape with kids after offensive game of tag

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" Rape tag" is a troubling game that involves moves similar to freeze tag, "except that a person had to be humped to be unfrozen."

It was discovered at a Minnesota elementary school after a concerned parent alerted the principal this January.

Bill Sprung, the principal of Washington Elementary School in New Ulm, Minn., was then given the daunting task of describing the game to parents in a letter sent home this week.

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He told reporters, "This age level of kids – 10, 11, 12 is a time when kids start to mature; start to experiment. Part of that experimentation is that they do things we wish they wouldn't have done."

Teachers and recess supervisors "extinguished" the game and talked to students. Nonetheless, about 20 parents were reportedly irked by the letter because it forced them to discuss rape with their children – many were stunned that Grade 5 students could possibly know the word.

Reaction in the mommy blog world is ringing equally thick: "While it doesn't surprise me that fifth graders know what 'humping' is ... what I find almost unbelievable is that these students would call the game 'rape tag.' Rape. Rape,'" Carolyn Castiglia wailed over at Stroller Derby.

While there's no question the game served as a teachable moment – that rape is never to be taken lightly – the notion that 11-year-olds won't push limits with words they don't fully comprehend seems naive.

"Kids are known for pushing the offensiveness envelope, and I'm sure the ones at Washington thought they were being hilarious. Let's hope they've learned that rape isn't ... funny," Anna North wrote at Jezebel.

Commenters on the site disagreed over the seriousness of the game. One confessed to playing "Suicidal Toys" in kindergarten, while another wrote, "The game is likely based on a limited understanding of rape, and lord knows in 5th grade we all thought the word 'humping' was hysterical."

Another pointed to the Lord of the Flies mentality in grade school, arguably the same that bubbles up in the darker shades of frat boy culture years later: "I could very easily see someone coming up with Rape Tag when I was a 5th grader almost 20 years ago. It just takes one or two to come up with these things, and the rest follow."

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How would you approach this type of teachable moment?

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