We, the undersigned, demand an education-based solution to the scourge of rape, sexual assault, and violence-enabling Rape Culture that currently exists in our society.
We believe that the best investment we as a country can make to prevent rape and sexual violence is in educating youth about what consent truly is, what sexual assault is, and to provide them with the social know-how to combat rape culture effectively within their own peer groups.
Please draft legislation in order to amend this public health crisis, NOW, by including sex education that teaches youth to recognize rape, to be an ally to peers dealing with sexual assault, and to be able to accurately define and establish consent in sexual activities.
Let us begin to lessen the burden of our youngest survivors, by creating a youth-culture that works to eradicate violence, rather than condones it.
Now, in recognition of the massive cultural forces at work that created the Stubenville case, let us never again have to watch as 16 year-olds receive a highly publicized crash course in something they should have been taught long ago.
For more information, read the extended letter below.
First, the facts:
Every two minutes, somewhere in America, someone is sexually assaulted. (RAINN.org, calculation based on 2000 National Crime Victimization Survey. Bureau of Justice Statistics, U.S. Department of Justice)
Approximately 2/3 of rapes are committed by someone known to the victim. (RAINN.org.)
99% of people who rape are men, 60% are Caucasian. (Greenfeld, L.A. Sex Offenses and Offenders: An Analysis of Data on Rape and Sexual Assault, Washington, D. C.: U.S. Department of Justice, Bureau of Justice Statistics, 1997.)
Approximately 18.3 % of women in the United States have survived a completed or attempted rape. Of these, 12.3% were younger than age 12 when they were first raped, and 29.9% were between the ages of 11 and 17. (National Intimate Partner and Sexual Violence Survey 2010)
A survey of high school students found that one in five had experienced forced sex (rape). Half of these girls told no one about the incident. A majority of boys (60%) found it acceptable in one or more situations for a boy to force sex on a girl. (Davis, T. C, G. Q. Peck, and J. M. Storment. "Acquantaince Rape and the High School Student." Journal of Adolescent Health 14 (1993): 220-24.)
And lastly, according to University At Buffalo Counseling Services,
"Many times women or men who have been date raped or acquaintance raped do not view the assault as a rape. They may experience some or all of the symptoms of rape trauma stemming from the violation of the body and the betrayal of a friend, but still may not consider the incident rape." (University At Buffalo Counciling Services, Date & Aquaintance Rape: An Overview, http://ub-counseling.buffalo.edu/violenceoverview.shtml)
Given these facts, it is clear that we have a problem in this country in understanding and teaching about what sexual assault is. How can we hope to prevent a social problem if that problem is not widely understood by the population and its judges?
The problem we face here is a social one, a culture-wide misunderstanding of what rape is, and what consent is. This culture of ignorance allows for the sexist, societal perpetration of Rape Culture by parents, peers, judges, and mass media by which thousands of women and men are victim-blamed every day, at the expense of their mental health and social reputation.
Now, after Stubenville, and in recognition that non-consentual sexual activities are, in many contexts, considered socially accepted behaviors according to much of the population, let us launch a prevention-education campaign starting with youth – to teach them how to be different. How to protect against sexual assault in their community!
For too long, rape-prevention campaigns have focused solely on women protecting themselves, which has clearly not been effective at eradicating this particular form of violence against women (and men); It is time to teach men and social peers to start doing their part in preventing rape, and that starts with learning what sexual assault is, what consent is, and how to know the difference.
According to research conducted in a high-school setting, "student attitudes, particularly those of males, may provide an important focus of preventive sex education in the physician's office, the classroom, and the community." (Davis, T. C, G. Q. Peck, and J. M. Storment. "Acquantaince Rape and the High School Student." Journal of Adolescent Health 14 (1993): 220-24.)
Coursework that teaches what consent is, men's role in fighting male violence, that deconstruct gender-myths and gender-roles which facilitate sexual assault & rape culture, and that focus on creating healthy masculinity in peer groups has already been modeled by multiple organizations that have created crucial, innovative, and effective trainings in this arena. (For resources, see Macho Paradox: Why Some Men Hurt Women and How All Men Can Help, by Jackson Katz, http://www.menstoppingviolence.org/, and http://www.mencanstoprape.org/)
These are just a few of the organizations that can and should be looked to in the creation of a violence-prevention amendment to current sex education programs, since they have the most experience and best understanding of rape culture in high-school settings. Such materials MUST become a required aspect of sex education, across the nation, if we are to turn the tides of sexual assault and rape in this country.
We have the tools. Now we just need the political will to establish new norms in society - norms that do not include rape and sexual assault.
Please draft legislation that requires public school sex education coursework be required to include how to recognize and combat rape, and rape culture, in peer settings!
The best investment we can make to prevent rape and sexual
violence is in educating youth about what consent truly is and how to
combat rape culture.
This petition demands that President Barack Obama draft legislation in order to amend this public health crisis by
including sex education that teaches youth to recognize rape, to be an
ally to peers dealing with sexual assault, and to be able to accurately
define and establish consent in sexual activities.
Sign if you agree!