College and Sexual Assault

College and Sexual Assault

Here in Ontario secondary students are already back at school but for most university students September 8th will be the first day of class. Media reports about on campus sexual assaults usually focus on attacks by strangers but what we don't typically hear about are the much more common incidences of acquaintance rape. According to RAINN, college age women are at the highest risk for being sexually assaulted (four times more likely to be assaulted). U.S. Department of Justice data shows that 34% of rapes and 45% of attempted rapes among college students are on campus.

Via the SAFER blog I landed on an enlightening article at Kent State’s News Net about how "the first few weeks of a college student's freshman and sophomore year pose the highest risk for rape," specifically acquaintance rape. "Statistically, sexual assaults occur in a residence, either the victim's own residence or someone else's," Alice Ickes, crime prevention officer for the Kent State Police Department, says. "They tend to occur when someone comes as a social call or in a party situation." RAINN also has new back-to-school tips for students, to help them stay safe.

A Scarleteen article on dealing with rape recommends making "your personal limits clear, and do not be afraid or shy to do so. The biggest contributors to sex crimes in this culture are silence and shame." Sex ed site Scarleteen also has a fantastic article about what guys can do to prevent rape. The Men Can Stop Rape organization, which mobilizes young men "to work as allies with women in preventing rape," also has a terrific list of free handouts to download on supporting survivors, rape as a men's issue, male survivors and more.

Ultimately, two of the best things you can do for yourself and your friends is to watch out for each other and to challenge societal attitudes (eg. a mass media that routinely depicts women as sexual objects) that make sexual assault more likely to occur. The last thing young women should have to worry about while settling in to their new lives at college is being sexually assaulted! Let's help make college campuses (and our schools, homes and communities) a safe place for everyone.

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