Raise awareness of rape through school curriculum


infographic by Abdul-Rahman Abdul-Kafi source: www.RAINN.org

Jenna Liu

Last week, a group of young men were arrested on suspicion of a number of sexual assaults on the University of Missouri campus. All were between the ages of 19-21, with one of the suspects being a junior at Hickman High School. America’s failure in handling issues of sexual assault and consent has now reached our own backyard.
Right now, thousands of kids across America are taught about abstinence, condom use and the best ways to avoid STIs; what remains startlingly absent from the curriculum is any mention of what constitutes rape and sexual assault and how to handle the aftermath of such cases. Many may believe this kind of education isn’t necessary and that everyone knows what rape is. The truth is both very different and very terrifying.

infographic by Abdul-Rahman Abdul-Kafi source: www.RAINN.org
infographic by Abdul-Rahman Abdul-Kafi
source: www.RAINN.org
About 32 percent of respondents to a survey done by Dr. Sarah Edwards, a psychology professor at the University of North Dakota, said they would have “intentions to force a woman to sexual intercourse” if ‘‘nobody would ever know and there wouldn’t be any consequences,” according to a paper published in 2014 in the journal “Violence and Gender.” However, only 13.6 percent said they would have “any intentions to rape a woman” demonstrating the frightening reality that many are not aware of what constitutes rape.
With this in mind, it is clear that something must be done to combat the increasingly pervasiveness of rape culture in the USA. While there is no way to legislate changing a mentality, there is something else we can utilize that will have a significant impact: education. High school is a time when students explore their own identities and develop an independent mindset. As such, including classes on sexual assault into the curriculum would be an invaluable move that could decrease rates of sexual assault and revolutionize how people treat potential cases of rape.
Currently, students are taught how to avoid rape through practices that just reinforce archaic ideas of responsibility and blame. Telling a young woman not to walk home alone at night or avoid strange men ignores the 73 percent of rapists who know their victim, according to the Rape Abuse and Incest National Network. Spreading awareness about rape whistles does nothing for the girl passed out in a fraternity house at the mercy of other college students who don’t consider it “rape-rape.”
It’s time to teach young adults that there are no hazy boundaries with sexual assault; rape is rape, and it has serious consequences. As many teens are still unaware to this, there needs to be a serious effort to include information about rape and sexual assault into current sexual education programs. If you believe it is a necessity, get in touch with your school guidance office and principal and express interest in such a class. Gather signatures from fellow students who want to join an education revolution that will hopefully chip away at a culture that has fostered ignorance of such an important issue. The change can even start right here at home; RBHS has the ability to be the first to lead the way.
By Jenna Liu