A more comprehensive consent education is needed to halt assault

S*xual assault is often overlooked in America. Whether it’s in the workplace, Hollywood, on the streets, or in schools, most find it easier to avert their eyes and ignore or excuse it than to step in and speak up. Campaigns to stop s*xual assault on college campuses are widespread, and legally required for those federally funded, yet high schools are rarely a part of the conversation. Education of consent and boundaries are only loosely touched upon in high schools, a vital time when students are going through their first relationships and forming ideas of consent that will last the rest of their lives. In a time when the President of the United States has admitted to his own life as an assault, and accused the women recently coming out as ‘fake news’, it is important to counter this with a comprehensible and clear education. A study in Louisiana public schools found 60 percent of high schools boys find it acceptable to force themselves on a girl in some circumstances. It is time to teach them differently.

 

  The lack of an early education is obviously detrimental, with a nationwide survey from the American Association of University Women reporting that 81 percent of students in grades 8-11 reported experiencing s*xual harassment during their school lives and 44 percent of s*xual assaults happen to people under the age of 18, according to RAINN, the Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network. Education for everyone, including those who may s*xually assault others or be the victim of it, is absent in high schools, and it is endangering students across America. Female high schoolers are at a higher risk than any other group, or time in their life to be victims of s*xual assault, and are more likely than not to be in the same classrooms and hallways as their perpetrators. Females ages 16-19 are 4 times more likely than the general population to be victims of rape, attempted rape, or s*xual assault, reported by the Department of Justice. This threat is not just present on dark street corners, and wild parties, but at football games, or with your boyfriend, as 70 percent of rape is perpetrated by someone they know and students are seven times more likely to s*xually assault than adults, reported by RAINN. Girls, and boys, are at an immense risk of s*xual assault and its being ignored, and not prevented, by their “protector”: their school. This issue is important to the livelihood of students. It should be addressed far earlier that it currently is. Even middle schools students are under this threat, with 1 in 5 middle schoolers having experienced unwanted s*xual contact.

 

  Survivors, while also dealing with the reality of being a victim of violence, have a lot of their shoulders. Often they have to face the reality of someone they know or trusted have violated them. If they muster the courage to tell their guidance counselor, it might not lead to much help, according to Break the Cycle, an organization that focuses on teen dating violence. More than 80 percent of high school guidance counselors say they feel ill-equipped to deal with reports of abuse in their school. That leaves these students who are also struggling with the decision to report the criminal, with the knowledge of what will it lead to. Trials of s*xual violence are often characterized with the victim being villainized, aggressively questioned, and silenced by their school and judicial system. All for the small chance of ever receiving justice. According to the Department of Justice  99.4% of s*xual assault perpetrators will walk free, yet only two percent of rape accusations are false. This is all along with the typical high school stress of homework, extracurriculars, and college readiness. Victims of s*xual assault are more likely to dropout of school than those who are not. The threat not only endanger the security of the physical well being of students, but their emotional capacities to be a good student.

 

  

Drawing by Mariam Baig.

Under Title IX, a federal law that prohibits gender-based discrimination in schools, public schools will be strippd of their funding if they do not abide. Currently, 90 K-12 schools are under investigation after multiple complaints of  the school not abiding due to s*xual assault allegations, yet no high school in history has ever had funding stripped because of a s*xual assault-related failure.  Unlike colleges, high schools are not legally required to report s*xual assault statistics, making it harder for the public, and the school, to see and confront the problem. Forty-four percent of reported s*xual assaults take place before the victim is 18. Rape is a thriving epidemic overlooked in this country and its starting line is in schools. It is time for a better, comprehensive  s*xual assault education to be present in our schools.

 

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