Your role in preventing sexual assault

Published 9:22 am Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Sexual assault is not an easy subject to discuss, though it has been talked about at great lengths in recent weeks with the head football coach at Baylor University covering up a number of alleged sexual assaults by his players and a swimmer at Stanford University receiving a lenient sentence after being convicted of three counts of felony sexual assault. But while most of us aren’t comfortable having such a conversation, it’s one that needs to be had if we hope to prevent this silent and violent epidemic on college campuses.

According to the National Sexual Violence Resource Center, one in five women and one in 20 men will be sexually assaulted while in college. This does not take into account all of the instances where rape or other forms of sexual assault go unreported, whether it be for reasons of self-blame, embarrassment, fear or unawareness of how to report the assault; the Bureau of Justice Statistics estimates that 36 percent of rapes, 34 percent of attempted rapes and 26 percent of other sexual assaults have gone unreported.

The best way to lower these numbers is to raise awareness of sexual assault, and it doesn’t simply mean rape. It also includes incest, ritual abuse, statutory rape, marital rape, sexual exploitation, sexual harassment, exposure and voyeurism.

Parents, talk to your children about sexual assault. Teach them that sex without consent is a crime. Plead with them to go to parties with close friends who will watch their back. Show them how to be respectful of other people, women in particular. It’s possible that such a conversation could prevent their own sexual assault or that of someone close to them.