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Sexual Violence at Schools and Colleges

Sep 14,2022

Schools and colleges are the places where a child learns the etiquette and ethics of life. But the same school life has become an apprehension and threat for many students. For a long time now, cases of sexual assaults on the school premises have been reported. Sometimes the area of assault is school buses, other times it is school classes. While sometimes the perpetrator is a fellow school student, at other times, it is the history teacher. A child is not safe even in the tender years of life. Not only does the sexual crime against innocent children exist, but it seems to increase at a rapid rate; which is of great concern for all of us.

As per the US Department of Education's Office for Civil Rights, in comparison with the figures of 2015-16, 2017-18 statistics pointed out a drastic 50% surge in sexual assault cases in schools and campuses. It is not just awful but agonizing. The detrimental impacts that the violence creates on the physical and mental health of the victims are beyond imagination. One of the major reasons for the immense increase in the figures, as stated by the authorities, was that there possibly was under-reporting in the previous survey, which in itself is an issue to be considered. When talking about sexual assault in schools and colleges, only 20% of the females report the crime. The fear of retaliation from the perpetrator and the social stigma attached to the issue are some of the many reasons why victims choose not to report the assaults.

Although sexual violence can happen to anyone, women all across the world are at a greater risk. As per the stats by RAINN, women with age 18-24 are at a higher risk of experiencing sexual violence. It also highlights that college students face increased risks of sexual violence in the first and second semesters of their college and in months like August, September, October, or November. The lack of information and awareness leads to improper actions. Appropriate and timely actions, on behalf of the school authorities, can make a drastic difference to the lives of victims and their justice journey. 86% of sworn campus law enforcement officials have the legal authority to arrest outside of the campus grounds.

What can be done to combat sexual violence in schools and colleges?

Despite the many measures being taken, stats clearly demonstrate that the improvements are stagnated. There seems to be hardly any betterment regarding the deep-rooted issue of sexual violence at schools and colleges. Consequently, some changes are yet required to be implemented in order to assure a safe educational environment for students. A learning experience where parents do not have to incessantly fret about the safety of their young ones.

Create Sexual Awareness Among Children at a Young Age

Children become a victim of sexual crime because they do not have the knowledge and sexual awareness. In most cases, perpetrators manipulate them to carry out their malicious purposes. There is often a belief that in kindergarten, a child is too young to be provided with sexual information. On the contrary, many learned people have contrasting opinions. They believe the earlier you start, the better it is. When children are taught after they hit puberty, they have to change their direction of thinking as we provide the new information. However, teaching them before puberty, their conditioning takes place with vital sexual information. Providing them with the relevant knowledge in their developing years helps them learn about things like inappropriate actions and touches, relevancy of consent, etc. which is inevitable for children to comprehend the gravity of sexual violence.

Students Should be Capable of Taking Actions

By creating knowledge among students, students should additionally be appreciated to take action when they see harmful scenarios developing against other students. They should be held responsible for taking steps against sexual violence not solely against themselves but also other victims. Bystander Programs teach the same. They believe in creating a healthy environment instead of making divisions among victims and perpetrators. They should rather be taught that is the responsibility of everyone to step in when they sexual crimes instead of being mute spectators. Watching the crime being committed against someone is just as heinous as committing the crime. As a result, it is indispensable for students to understand that they can jump in when unjust acts of sexual violence are committed.

Parents Are the Tutors Outside Schools

Not all education can be expected from schools and teachers. It is comprehensible that children spend most of their time at school, but parents are present outside the school environment. When sexual awareness programs and educational drives are being conducted at schools, parents should as well be asked to accompany their children to comprehend the subject in-depth and later impart and enforce that education outside the school premises. Teachers cannot accompany students to all places, but parents can to most of them. Therefore, just how important it is for children to have sexual education, equally crucial it is for the parents.

Appropriate Implementation of School Policies

Most schools have laws and policies for sexual harassment and sexual assaults. However, when we talk about the implementation, there exists a huge gap. In order to evade the problem of sexual violence in schools and colleges. First of all, the enforcement of these laws is imperative. In addition, conducting school policies should be encouraged by both parents and students for ensuring awareness and knowledge about sexual violence in schools among children. In case a school does not have appropriate policies, actions and steps must be taken by parents against it. To create a healthy and safe environment that is free from sexual violence, we all need to do our bit.

If you or anyone you know has experienced some form of sexual violence, it is time to seek help. Don't stay silent, speak up!