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Time to discuss sexual assault

EDITORIAL

Sexual assault is not an easy subject to discuss, though it has been talked about at great lengths in recent weeks, with the revelation that the head football coach at Baylor University covered up a number of alleged sexual assaults by his players and the news that a swimmer at Stanford University had received a lenient sentence after having been convicted of three counts of felony sexual assault.

Though 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, as many as one in five women and one in 20 men will be sexually assaulted while in college. Many of those rapes 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 only attend 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 a sexual assault against them or someone close to them.