Preventing Sexual Assault through Sexual Education

In recent years, the conversation surrounding sexual assault has become something that is more widely accepted. Victims are encouraged to come forward, forming a community of survivors with new stories coming out every day.

One statistic from Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network (RAINN), the nation’s largest anti-sexual violence organization, says that every 98 seconds, an American is sexually assaulted.

This number has left humanity alarmed, but also scratching their heads. How do we fix this? This question leaves us frustrated and constantly searching for a complex solution when in reality, the problem could be as simple as the sexual education kids receive in their schooling prior to college.

When asked about the quality of sexual education she received prior to Monmouth, one editor stated, “I think mine, frankly, was pretty terrible. We basically learned about Sexually Transmitted Diseases (STD), but didn’t learn how they were passed on or how they could be prevented, it was generally pretty awful, and some things were never covered. We did have a decent amount of time set aside for health, but it usually focused on drugs, alcohol, etc.”

This editor attended a public school; usually, people assume that the abstinence-preaching approach to sexual education is only in private Catholic high schools, but the reality is, it can happen anywhere.

What if our sexual education went beyond just ‘this is what boys have’ and ‘this is what girls have?’ One editor commented, “Schools could extend the learning beyond just one class. I think it’s important to appeal to your audience. Rather than showing the stereotypical video we all have heard or seen, try making the course interactive or try understanding what those students are seeing day to day and mold the course to fit them.”

Beyond just the traditional sexual education, today in Kenya, students are having classes dedicated solely to consent and what it means. The students are taught to respect themselves along with members of the opposing genders. Since implementing this, studies show there has been a 51 percent decrease in cases of sexual assault. This is something American schools need desperately.

Besides knowing what is going on in their own bodies, students should know the mechanisms of the opposite sex. In most schools, especially at an early age, sexual education is taught different and separately according to gender.

One editor commented, “I do not believe girls and boys should be separated during sexual education since they are learning about the same thing really. Maybe in 6th grade when the topics are first being introduced, but other than that, it is fair and makes sense for genders to learn together.” By separating genders during sexual education, we are teaching children that there is a divide between genders, and that anything concerning the sexual changes opposite yours is not your problem and awkward.

One editor explained her experience, “I think girls having their period has such an awful stigma. You say it to a male and they immediately are grossed out or assume you’re pms-ing. I think it may be due to sexual education not normalizing it enough, but it is a stigma that I’m sure all women can attest to be annoying.”

A male editor commented, “I feel that most males don’t know much about periods, including myself. I feel that my sexual education didn’t go into it as much, if any detail,

I don’t personally feel uncomfortable when talking about the subject, but I feel that I know a lot less on periods than I should due to my education on the matter.”

One suggestion the editorial team at The Outlook suggested was expanding the conversation beyond just middle/high school. One editor shared her opinion, “It is a good idea to dedicate one or two classes in a freshman seminar about higher level understanding of sexual education; to remind students the dangers that exist with publicizing sex or sharing private photos and videos; also to review court cases from sexual assault, and share the current STD statistics at the University could prevent a lot of issues.”

All in all, sexual assault is something that has been happening since the beginning of time, and now that the conversation is being so welcomed and prevalent, this is the time to start making plans to diminish it. One editor concluded, “I think that better and more in depth sex ed could decrease sexual assault. If the schools talk more about consent and learn more about sexual assault, I think it would lead to less rape and assault.”