Ending rape on college campuses requires talking about it long before

These days everyone is talking about how colleges and universities can cut down on rape on their campuses. But likely the single most important way to end violence on campus is to start talking about it long before — in middle and high school.

Representatives Carolyn Maloney (D-N.Y.), Suzanne Bonamici (D-Ore.) and Alma Adams (D-N.C.) have introduced the Teach Safe Relationships Act, which amends the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) and would require schools to teach students about safe relationships as part of sex education.

The connections between poor sex ed and sexual violence are real and pressing. According to the Centers for Disease Control, one in ten female high school students have been raped and, according to a recent study, most young women assume that abuse is just “normal stuff that guys do.” As Emma Brown at the Washington Post reports,

One survivor, a graduate of the University of Nebraska at Omaha, said she was raped repeatedly in a long-term relationship but didn’t realize it because she had never learned the concept of consent. She believed that if her partner wanted sex, she had no choice but to comply.

“I grew up in public schools. We had very little to no sex education,” she said. “I honestly believed — and, oh my god, I can’t believe this but I did — I honestly believed that you could hurt a guy if you said no.”

In a press release yesterday, Rep. Maloney said, “Young women and men need to understand what relationship violence is, and where to turn when they have experienced abuse. Teaching safe relationships needs to be a part of sexual education curricula, and we should provide schools with the resources they need to reach every student. We need to teach students that help is available, and that violence in any form from the people you love is never acceptable.”

Call your representative and ask them to co-sponsor the Teach Safe Relationships Act.

Header image credit: CTV News

New Haven, CT

Dana Bolger is a Senior Editor at Feministing and the co-founder of Know Your IX, the national youth-led organization working to end gender violence in schools. She's testified before Congress on Title IX policy and legislative reform, and her writing has appeared in a number of outlets, including The New York Times, Washington Post, and The Wall Street Journal. She's also a student at Yale Law School, and you can find her on Twitter at @danabolger.

Dana Bolger is a Senior Editor at Feministing and a student at Yale Law School.

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