On Thursday, October 20, University of Wisconsin Madison student Alec R. Cook was charged with four counts of sexual assault for attacking another student.
Since the 20-year-old’s arrest, many other women have come forward and reported similar occurrences on campus and in his apartment. One student’s report of being inappropriately touched multiple times during class this year brought 15 more counts against him. However, the most disturbing part of this whole situation is that Cook has been keeping lists of potential women to stalk, rape, and even kill.
Though Cook has been suspended and banned from the school, the emotional and physical damage has already been done to his victims. But what can we do to prevent this kind of violence before it happens? Some schools and parents are giving lessons about consent long before kids go to college.
One in five women experience sexual assault in college. While some believe teaching self-defense to girls will help prevent them from becoming victims of this violence, others say the focus should also be on teaching children about its core issue: consent.
Some parents have taken it upon themselves to educate their young teens about the concept in ways they can easily understand, like showing them the below video.
Experts also say that another great preventative measure is teaching young children about respecting physical boundaries early.
“I think it’s reasonable to think that parents, even when they have
babies or toddlers, they start using language like, ‘I’m going to change
your diaper now. Is that okay with you?’ Obviously it’s okay,
but it’s reinforcing the concept of consent from a very early
age,” says Laura Rice, a mother who works for the WISE sexual violence prevention program in New Hampshire.
New England Patriots owner Bob Craft even launched a dating violence prevention program in 2015 called Game Change: The Patriots Anti-Violence Partnership. Ninety Massachusetts high schools have participated in the program so far.
Only about half of the states in the U.S. require sexual assault prevention education, but hopefully more will join in and mandate these crucial teachings in coming years.
The best way to deal with these kinds of issues is to talk about them, learn about the systems that reinforce them, and then teach our kids accordingly.
If you or someone you know has been the victim of sexual harassment or assault, you can call 800-656-4673 or click here for support and assistance.