A Project for Better Journalism chapter
Features, News Features

Sexual assault rates rise to concerning high

According to research by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), approximately one in six boys and one in four girls are sexually abused before the age of 18. This means that schools are potentially a place where sexual assaults happen because, before the age of 18, most boys and girls are in schools.

“This particular statistic makes me feel very uncomfortable and upset that the number of sexual assaults is that high,” said junior Naomi Bilesanmi. This fact can shed light on various sexual assaults that have happened in recent months.

The recent sexual assaults reported in political events, churches, and in schools have started a movement called #MeToo. This movement is against the sexual assaults that happen all around the world, and shed light on the stories of sexual assaults victims.

“Let’s say you’re in college, it can impede your progress,” said Ms. Brown, Parkdale’s community resource advocate. “Second of all, it leaves emotional and physiological scars. If you got an STD then you have to worry about your health.”

There are many other side effects a sexual assault victim can go through such as:

  • Depression
  • Post-traumatic stress  (PSD)
  • Night terrors
  • Self-harm
  • Sexually Transmitted Infections (STIs)
  • Substance abuse
  • Dissociation
  • Eating disorder
  • Pregnancy
  • Suicide

All of these can have lasting impacts on victims’ day-to-day activities, such as going to school and work and building relationships.

According to National Women Law Center (NWLC) sexual harassment creates a hostile environment when it is sufficiently serious that it interferes with or limits a student’s ability to participate in or benefit from an educational program. Raising awareness and knowledge about sexual assault is very important.

“Schools that have a health class need to teach students about consent, and schools should have a program that teaches students about sexual assault,” said Bilesanmi.

It is important to spread the message of sexual assault throughout schools to encourage people to help others to build a strong community. Right now there is no assembly or event in Parkdale that talks about sexual assault, but there is a girls mentoring program called “Girl Power” that is trying to face the talk about sexual assault to girls.

This is a big step in teaching how to see those “red flags” in the predator because in eight out of 10 cases of rape, the victim knew the perpetrator according to National Sexual Violence Resource Center (NSVRC). This means most of the times in sexual assault cases it is done by someone you know. Teaching theses value lessons in school, jobs, etc. can really make a difference for the whole community.

It’s also very important to reach out to an adult or a friend you can trust so that they can help you or anyone that has experienced sexual assault, but it’s better to reach out for an adult so that you can get help in getting better and guide you.

Another thing that is important is teaching students how to defend themselves in these situations, but the most important thing is to teach consent.  If a person says no, that means no; it doesn’t mean to keep going, it means to stop and leave them alone.

Sexual assault is a big issue to teach in a community so that everyone knows the consequences and what to do if anyone has been sexually assaulted.