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Preventing Sexual Assault: Colleges and Men Urged to Lead

PHOTO: One effort that continues to grow nationwide to raise awareness and get men more involved in sexual assault prevention is called "Walk a Mile in Her Shoes." Photo credit: Tulane Public Relations
PHOTO: One effort that continues to grow nationwide to raise awareness and get men more involved in sexual assault prevention is called "Walk a Mile in Her Shoes." Photo credit: Tulane Public Relations
January 28, 2014

AUSTIN, Texas – With an estimated one-in-five women sexually assaulted during college, a new effort is under way to help schools do a better job with prevention and response.

The White House Task Force to Protect Students from Sexual Assault has 90 days to come up with recommendations.

Those should include the training of college leadership and responders on treating the issue as the serious crime it is, says Annette Burrhus-Clay, executive director of the Texas Association Against Sexual Assault.

"There has been a tendency with many universities – certainly not all, but many universities – to handle sexual assaults as a disciplinary issue rather than a criminal issue,” Burrhus-Clay maintains. “And so even when rape victims have come forward, the response they've gotten from the university has not necessarily been adequate."

Those who have been sexually assaulted are more likely to later have depression, battle substance abuse or suffer from a wide range of physical ailments.

In announcing the creation of the task force this past week, President Barack Obama also called on men to become more involved in prevention and speaking out.

Burrhus-Clay says that could really help shift the tide.

"There's been more and more moves towards having really effective bystander intervention,” she explains. “We know that you can't end rape if you can't stop perpetration.

“And I think for too long efforts have been put out on risk reduction and what women need to do to make themselves safer as opposed to getting more men involved."

In the U.S., it's estimated that about 22 million women and 1.6 million men have been sexually assaulted in their lifetime.


John Michaelson, Public News Service - TX