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Editorial Board: Sexual Assault Awareness Month

April 24, 2017

April represents Sexual Assault Awareness and Prevention month, in which we recognize and support victims of sexual assault while working toward prevention and raising awareness of the prevalence of sexual assault in our culture.

Before we continue, it’s important that we recognize this is an issue that affects all. Men don’t stop reading because you consider this a “women’s issue.” Both men and women can be victims and perpetrators of sexual assault.

One in three to four girls and one in five to seven boys are sexually assaulted before they enter college, according to the Huffington Post.

Once in college, according to the Rape, Abuse and Incest National Network, 23.1 percent of female undergraduate students and 5.4 percent of male undergraduate students experience rape or sexual assault through physical force, violence, or incapacitation.

With this level of prevalence, it’s really shameful how little our district does to raise awareness or advocate for sexual assault prevention. Dr. Greg Mathison, head principal, said he wants sexual assault education to occur in health classes where he believes sexual assault education can be most effective. However, he has no plans to recognize the month within the school or introduce greater education in the future.

Every 8 minutes, one American child is the victim of sexual assault, according to RAINN.

Although we find it unfortunate that there is no program for the prevention of sexual assault, we do commend the district for its strict policies regarding sexual harassment and sexual assault. We urge Rockwood to continue these penalties and work to educate students before sexual assault becomes even more prevalent among students.

Sexual assault includes more than only an overt act of sexual violence. Although it can be that, and commonly is thought, sexual assault also includes “small” acts of sexual misconduct.

And although the issue is considered taboo, it’s clearly enough of a problem among young people that it must be addressed by our administration and guidance. However, there’s a number of potential solutions to help alleviate this issue.

Perhaps an assembly in April to educate students on what constitutes sexual assault, how to avoid committing sexual assault and what students should do when they are put in such a situation.

Or take a page out of Dartmouth University’s book. At the university, they require mandatory sexual assault courses for all students. Doing the same in Rockwood high schools might be a way to curb such harmful actions.

Help students understand their rights under Title IX. Victims of sexual assault have a number of protections under this law that allow them to safely continue going to school.

No matter what, the most important step in sexual assault prevention is education.

The effects of sexual assault are not temporary. We recognize that these feelings will stay with victims for the rest of their lives and can often lead to disorders such as PTSD.

So please, if you or someone you know has been burdened with such a horrific act of disrespect, come forward. Say something and don’t leave it up to the next victim. There shouldn’t have to be a next victim.

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