Designated by the National Sexual Violence and Research Center as National Sexual Assault Awareness and Prevention Month, April represents a very serious subject of concern to everyone. Serving as the nation’s principle information and resource center regarding all aspects of sexual violence, the National Sexual Violence Research Center provides national leadership, technical assistance, and consultation by generating the development and flow of information on sexual violence intervention and prevention strategies.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is funding unique prevention campaigns that engage bystanders to get involved and to help reduce sexual assault, and the Department of Education is working to combat sexual violence at schools and universities. Any public or private school, college or university that receive Federal funds must comply with Title IX. Title IX of the Educational Amendment of 1972 is a Federal civil rights law that prohibits discrimination on the basis of sex in education and activities.
Sexual harassment is unwelcome conduct of a sexual nature, and should not be tolerated. It happens in the workplace, at school, in public places, and is against the law, and can lead to more violent acts. “It’s Time….To Get Involved” is a campaign by the CDC and NSVRC that educates potential witnesses in safe and positive ways they can act to prevent or intervene when there is a risk for sexual violence. This program teaches how to stop situations that could possibly lead to sexual assault. Also, it gives individuals the skills to be an effective and supportive ally to survivors after an assault has taken place. Research shows that this technique is a promising way to help prevent the widespread problem of sexual violence across campuses and other communities.
Here are five steps toward taking action:
- Notice the event along a range of actions;
- Consider whether the situation demands your action;
- Decide if you have the responsibility to act;
- Choose what form of assistance to use;
- Understand how to implement the choice safely.
One victim of sexual assault, whether it is a child or an adult, is too many. In the case of children, parents should watch for signs that something is not quite right. Many victims are afraid or ashamed to speak out, but they must, in order for perpetrator to be stopped before there are more who fall prey to them. We all have an important role in changing community knowledge, attitudes and behaviors.
Social marketing campaigns or outreach campaigns use the bystander approach to preventing dating and sexual violence. Two such campaigns are: Know Your Power Campaign – www.know-your-power.org and The Red Flag campaign – www.theredflagcampaign.org).
Programs that have been evaluated and found to be effective in changing attitudes or behaviors are listed:
- Bringing in the Bystander, which teaches college students appropriate and safe ways to intervene before, during and after a sexual assault.
- Men’s Program/1 in 4: focuses on building empathy with college men.
- Mentors in Violence Prevention (MVP): focuses on student leaders and athletes in high school and college about men’s role in gender violence prevention, which uses sports metaphors and framework.
- MyStrength Club: provides a multi-session club for high school boys, providing them a place where they can explore ways to help prevent sexual violence.
We must remember that every victim of sexual assault is someone’s daughter, sister, mom, grandmother, son, nephew, or friend. Take part in educating others about this devastating act that occurs in all realms of society. Get involved and you may protect someone from a terrible situation.