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Imagine, walking across stage, grabbing the diploma, and entering the next phase of life. Logically, the next step would be college, supposedly the happiest time of one’s entire life. College encourages self discovery, friendship, and education. However, many women do not have this experience. The happiest time of life can instantly be turned into a time of trauma and heartache as a result of sexual assault. Universities can supply youth with an education, but they also supply high sexual assault rates. To make matters worse, colleges do not provide adequate assault services. If universities provide more sexual assault prevention and aid programs, then on campus assault rates would be lowered and students would be more comfortable reporting assault.
While some people refuse to acknowledge the problem of on campus assault, thousands of woman become victims to assault every year. In fact, Tara N. Richard, from the University of Baltimore, explains that 25% of women will be sexually assaulted during their college career. As a further point, Zachary Taylor, a student from the University of Texas in Austin, reports the following data found through a study that pulled ddata from thirty two colleges: “21% of all female students experienced sexual assault during their undergraduate careers and 13% were raped by the time they graduated”. The authors explain that drastic numbers are subjected to on campus assault.. The percentage of assaulted women has not lowered throughout the years. The data shows that this is a current problem. As these innocent women enroll in college to receive an education, they receive trauma and heartache instead.
Sexual assault continues to be a issue because most instances go unreported. Studies have shown that only 20% of women report assault while other studies have shown that less than 5% of women report. Assault can go unreported for many reasons. Laura Lynn Kerner, from the College of Business at Athens State University, explains this, “Major barriers to reporting rape to law enforcement included: 1) not wanting others to know about the rape, 2) fear of retaliation, 3) perception of insufficient evidence, 4) uncertainty about how to report, and 5) uncertainty about whether a crime was committed or whether harm was intended”.
Assault goes unreported for other reasons as well. The biggest reason is that most women do not understand how to report. A recent study done by a University of Texas student, Zachary Taylor. elaborates on this point. He created a sample size of one hundred four year private and public universities. He then took the reporting instructions and analyzed them. He reports on the following results, “The average sexual assault reporting instructions are written at a grade level of 15.4 (roughly a thirdyear college reading level), and 81% of all institutions provided sexual assault reporting instructions written at or above a first-year college reading level”. Only 11% of the schools provided readable instructions. Meaning most women, unable to read the instructions, are put into situations in which they do not know how to report assault. Being incapable of reading how to report puts other women at even higher risks. Think of foreign students or students with reading and learning disabilities. What do they do in this situation? They are not even given the opportunity to report the assault because they can not read how to. Women are at a disadvantage from the beginning of this process. Women will never be able to find justice if they can not bring their assault to the authorities.
People often argue that assault on campus continues to be an issue because women do not report. They place the blame on women. However, these people fail to recognize why females do not want to report. To begin, common knowledge illustrates that perpetrator commonly goes unpunished. Laura Lyn Kerner reports, “less than one-third of students found responsible for sexual assault are expelled from their colleges,” (7). Even when the perpetrators do get expelled, they can still attend college at another location. Why go through the tiring and embarrassing court process when person at fault will not be convicted? Additionally, students are afraid that they will face the repercussions of previous actions. To elaborate, nearly eighty seven percent of all assault cases involve underage drinking. If the victim decides to report the assault, they punished for drinking. Because of this, many women decide not to report. Commonly, victims are placed in the scenarios to remain free from consequences or seek justice. This should not even be a choice that a person has to make.
Some colleges do attempt to prevent sexaul assault. However, these programs tend to fall on deaf ears as they have many flaws. To begin, these time limited programs lack consistency. As a result, they lack attendance. They particularly lack male attendance. How can sexual assault be prevented if no one shows up to the prevention programs? Additionally, college prevention programs usually take place during one month. Laura Kerner explains this in her essay, Sexual Assaults on College Campuses, “Programs may be time-limited, typically offered only during sexual assault awareness week/ month, generally in April”. As a result of this, the prevention programs do not take place in the fall, the time of year with the highest assault rates. Also, recent studies have shown that these programs teach how to help injured or assaulted people. They do not teach how to prevent it. Additionally, the programs do not stress the importance of male responsibilities when, in most instances, the male is the perpetrator. A study, which examined nine universities, showed that all of the prevention programs where “tailored for the potential perpetrator”. As a further point, most programs teach the bystanders how to help. Meaning they teach bystanders how to intervene in assault scenarios instead of teaching the women how to defend herself. In order to lower assault rates, colleges need to take a look at their current prevention programs, and realize that they do not work. Instead of using the old flawed way, perhaps they should consider women’s lives more seriously, and create a more reliable programs.
A recent study has theorized a modern assault prevention program. The Lyn kerner explains, “The prevention program is designed to overcome the limitations of other prevention programs”. The program, titled Straight Talk about Sexual Assault, starts by implementing mandatory prevention classes for both men and women. It then details a clear process for reporting assault. It also requires the implementation of a sexual assault counseling center filled with trained personnel, student advocate services, and victim housing changes. As another measure, the program will be monitored to insure and predict success. Even though this a theoretical study, it still has a high chance of success if ever implemented simply because it eliminates basic mistakes. This proves that things can change.
As many assaulted women attempt to better their lives, many people ask themselves, “Can change be created?” The answer is yes. Things can change. Sexual assault can become a historic means of oppression that is unthinkable in modern society. But, where does this change start? It starts by holding people accountable for their actions. If a man is convicted of assaulting a woman, not only should he be expelled from university, but he should also be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the federal law. If a woman is assaulted, she should be entitled to receive victim services. Women should be taught how to defend themselves. Universtites should require all sexes to take sexual assault prevention courses, and colleges should be required to provide understandable reporting instructions. Modern prevention programs have been made, they just need toimplemented. People need to stop denying that college assault is an issue that affects thousands of women. When all of these changes are made, then assault rates have a chance of being reduced for the first time in years. When universities hold more responsibility and hold all of their students accountable, then women will stand a chance.
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