What is society's "rape culture"? Immersed in a highly sexualized culture with little sex education and often no guidance, teens don't have consistent rules -- and thus see a blurry line between sex and sexual assault.

Here are some thoughts from young people and those who work with them on teens and sex:

  • Candace Kanavel, 17, junior, Santa Teresa High, San Jose: "Sex, unfortunately, has become such a casual thing for many high school students. ... It's sad hearing about some of my friends who throw such a personal and special thing around to anybody who wants it, just because it's fun, it feels good, or they were so drunk it 'just happened.' I think in some ways it most definitely has become a normal part of teen life. You like someone, then you want to have sex with them and the next thing you know that's the buzz around school."

  • Blaine Dzwonczyk, 17, senior, Los Altos High: "Things are so vile on the Internet. I've seen horrible articles about girls who tell (about sexual assault) getting totally bashed on Twitter, comments like 'Why would you ruin those boys' lives?'"

  • Ashley Massey, 17, sophomore, Santa Teresa High, San Jose: Girls who are date-raped "distance themselves from a lot of people, because they're embarrassed and they feel they have no one to tell."

  • Lisie Sabbag, senior, Palo Alto High, author of main articles in Verde magazine's "Rape Culture" feature: "Parents are taught that they have to give the kids 'the talk' when they reach puberty. Talking about consent and rape should be included in that. It should be a part of any talk that parents have with their teens. And it should just be part of our everyday curriculum."

  • Santiago Garcia, senior, KIPP King Collegiate, San Lorenzo: "We should improve health education ... that way the kids learn at a younger age what to do and what not to do. Parents should have more involvement in what their kids are doing."

  • Debrianna Dimas, 21, Chico State senior, Santa Teresa High graduate: "We, as a society, like to blame the victims for being raped and not the perpetrators for raping."

  • Allison Pham, junior, Santa Teresa High: "Teenagers need to understand that not everyone they want to have sex with will say yes or no right off the bat. They need to know how to communicate positively, without coercion or pressure and with a clear mind, without the influence of drugs or alcohol, about what they want to do and what is OK."

  • Elizabeth Campos, 22, San Jose City College: "Girls, in gangs or not in gangs, are being molested. You're confused, you really don't know what rape is. ... They talk and say things like, 'Hey, my uncle took me; hey, my brother took me.'"

  • Emily Hoeven, 16, junior at Washington High, Fremont: "People can take a picture and forward it to everyone in their inbox. It's amplified so much. People send pictures to each other all the time. Now that there's pictures and evidence, and people are sending it to their friends, it's so much more awful."

  • Veronica Hernandez, junior, Santa Teresa High, San Jose: "I don't know anyone who's been raped, but I know people who have been pressured to have sex when they weren't ready, and they had it anyway. I don't think they consider it rape because they weren't held down. ... Now they're drowning themselves in their own guilt."

    Contact Sharon Noguchi at 408-271-3775. Follow her at Twitter.com/NoguchiOnK12.