Do We Have a Problem Defining Our Problems?

This post was originally published at

In January, the FBI announced that it is finally updating its ancient definition of rape to conform to a more thorough understanding of sexual assault. While many states have already adapted their criminal codes, decades of national statistics on sexual assaults have relied on the FBI’s definition dating back to 1927 that rape was essentially a property crime against a husband, or “carnal knowledge [penetration of the vagina by a penis] of a female, forcibly and against her will.”  That means that for almost a century, male victims of rape have not been counted in the federal government’s national database. Neither have many of the mentally disabled or impaired, nor victims of both genders who have suffered rape by anal or oral penetration.

We’ve been redefining other things, too. This month, the American Psychiatric Association is arguing for a stricter definition of autism in the upcoming edition of the mental health profession’s gold standard text, the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual (DSM-V.) If implemented, the proposed change will undoubtedly result in fewer diagnosed cases of autism. While many experts welcome the greater specificity of the new definition, some parents and clinicians worry that autistic children could be missed under the new criteria and thus be ineligible for necessary services.

Read the rest of this column at

About ErikaChristakis

Yale Lecturer in early childhood education/Licensed teacher/Former preschool director/author. In possession of: unmarketable bachelor’s degree (Harvard, anthropology), semi-marketable graduate degrees (public health, education…). Rewarding career at the intersection of family, society, and schools (including long stint in parenting vortex). Forging a new path to connect all of the above.
This entry was posted in Children/Teens/Young Adults, Erika @ Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s