It’s unacceptable: Each year 434,000 Americans 12 and older are sexually assaulted or raped. Everyone is affected by sexual violence, but nine out of every 10 survivors are female. For LGBTQ people, sexual assault is just as prevalent, or even more so.
Numbers like these are appalling — and yet, politicians across the country are rejecting policies that would help to end sexual assault in our communities. These politicians would rather have us quietly tolerate the unacceptable. Not on our watch.
Sexual assault — any sexual contact without consent — is a major issue for sexual health. That’s why Planned Parenthood and activists across the country are fighting for three things that everyone deserves:
- comprehensive sex education that helps prevent assault;
- supportive public policies; and
- a culture of consent.
April 21, 2016
Study: Overwhelming Support for Consent Education in Schools
Using Sex Education to Prevent Sexual Assault
Sexual assault can happen to anyone regardless of gender, race, age, sexual orientation, disability, or educational status. To end sexual assault in all communities, young people need quality sex education that helps prevent sexual assault — including lessons about communication, gender norms, consent, and healthy relationships.
Planned Parenthood supports and provides sex education that helps young people build communication and negotiation skills , including talking and listening to their partner. Planned Parenthood also provides resources to help survivors of sexual assault feel supported — rather than brushed off, disbelieved, or blamed.
However, myopic politicians and some school officials insist on funding abstinence-only-until-marriage programs that don’t teach the skills or attitudes necessary to build a culture of consent, leaving too many young people without the tools they need to stay healthy and safe.
Supporting Prevention and Response with Good Policies
To make real progress toward ending sexual assault, survivors need policies that support them.
There has been progress in policies that aim to prevent and respond to sexual assault at the local, state, and federal levels. For example, in 2014 President Obama introduced a White House task force to combat sexual assault on college campuses. Survivors across the nation have been speaking up and making a difference. More recently, the #MeToo movement has brought the power of survivor’s voices to the forefront, with unprecedented demands for perpetrators to be held accountable.
Planned Parenthood’s ability to support survivors is under constant threat by politicians with an agenda to shut down health centers. The consequence would be blocking people — including young people — from accessing the preventive services Planned Parenthood health centers provide. And we won’t stand for it.
Fierce College Activists are Creating Change on Campus
One study suggests that nearly one in five undergraduate women experience sexual assault or attempted sexual assault since entering college. Silence can be detrimental to both mental and physical health, and the young people at the helm of this movement are raising their voices to be heard.
Within Planned Parenthood Generation Action, young people are speaking up to say that one is too many. Young campus activists from Fresno to Memphis to New York City are taking action to stand against sexual assault on their campuses. Planned Parenthood Generation Action supports student organizers in holding campus administrations accountable for their response to sexual assault on campus, and to ensure that proactive policies are in place to support and protect survivors of sexual assault.
For more information on Generation Action’s work to end sexual assault on college campuses, email Kelley Robinson.