Sexual assault epidemic must end

Who is to blame?

Sexual assault is an epidemic. And it’s become a hot topic in today’s society. But teaching girls to protect themselves isn’t enough, boys need to learn how to act like decent human beings.

Lots of information is available for girls on the internet about how to stay safe and protect themselves from assault. Some of the suggestions include: checking the back seat of your car before entering, walking with your keys in your fist to use as a weapon, carrying pepper spray, carrying drinks with you at all times, not to trust Uber drivers, not talking on phone while walking alone at night, and to make sure your windows are locked when you’re home alone.

Girls are told to “cover up” and wear clothes that are “less revealing” because they are “too distracting” and put them at risk of being assaulted. But the clothes are not the issue. Instead of teaching girls how to protect themselves, we should be teaching boys not to commit sexual assault.

Although the tips are helpful, they are a huge inconvenience to everyday life. Women shouldn’t have to do these things in order to live safe lives.

It’s difficult to teach boys this because the media tells them otherwise. Boys can see even leaders like the President of the United States bragging about sexual assault and getting away with it. This makes them feel like they can do it too. Other elements of popular culture like music, especially rap songs, talk about taking advantage of women and blatantly disrespecting women.

This makes it seem like sexual assault isn’t a big deal. This leads men to feel entitled to do what they want. Jokes about sexual assault and rape are common among young boys.

Why is this kind of behavior allowed to go on? Do they think it’s funny? No one is laughing.

People need to understand though the jokes that discriminate women seem harmless, they can have many negative effects with infiltrating the minds of young boys and making girls feel like sexual assault is something they have to put up with.

Even when women speak out about sexual assault, they get shamed by some people for it. Women are afraid to speak out against their attackers because they are worried they won’t be believed.

Often times they are seen a being “dramatic” or exaggerating the truth, “seeking attention.”

The culture of not believing and silencing survivors must end if society is to move forward. For example, Dr. Christine Blasey Ford and now Supreme Court Judge Brett Kavanaugh. People (including the President) undermined her assault by saying it was either so long ago or that she is only telling lies.

Either way, women are treated with disrespect.

How can we teach boys that sexual assault isn’t OK and they are not entitled to just anything? This education must start in school and needs to start at a young age. And the lessons need to increase as they age. There must be consent lessons, what it means to say “no” and how to respect that.

There must be much more serious consequences for every one who commits sexual assault. Leaders, actors and others in positions of power should not be getting away such behaviors or attitudes.

Our generation needs to work to teach future children as well and be better parents in that way. Parents need to set a good example for their kids. They need to teach them about inappropriate touching and the importance of saying no and respecting someone’s choice to not wanting physical contact-even hugging.

Some people have to understand though that jokes that discriminate women seem harmless and funny but can have many negative effects with infiltrating the minds of young boys and making girls feel like sexual assault is something they have to put up with.

What happened at our homecoming dance isn’t acceptable. But the sad reality is that sexual assault goes on far too often all around the the world. That’s why educating children about sexual behavior from a young age is critical.