The beginning of the school semester from fall through Thanksgiving break is commonly known as the Red Zone, due to statistics proving that this is when more than 50% of college campus sexual assaults occur. It is said it is possibly due to being home without much social interaction that the excitement of “School back in session” has a negative effect on some students. With a worldwide on-going pandemic and students returning to on-site learning, campuses are preparing for ways to educate students on sexual safety, assault prevention and the repercussions that can occur with excessive alcohol or drugs use. Educational programs are being put into play on more campuses to warn students of the impact various substances can have on their thought process and safety.
Studies show that when adolescence are restricted socially from those of the opposite sex, such as what the country has just experienced during the pandemic there is an increase in sexual frustration, and many are suffering from onset depression. With the latest data reported here, experts do not see things improving in 2022 and in fact, are seeing sexual crimes increasing daily.
Schools and Universities are encouraged to make sexual education more easily accessible campus wide. There must be more postings regarding accessible STD testing facilities, free or low-cost birth-control and STD prevention kits to include condoms, lubricants, brochures with support groups and available programs to students that might be needing help. In addition, posters and handouts with information on how to report harassment or a crime must be posted throughout campuses.
In 2021 the power of social media has shown to impact our younger generation in a variety of ways. However, in the case of sexual education and sexual awareness of what is consensual sex, some large groups have turned to social media to get these important messages across. Power to Decide, a national campaign to prevent unplanned pregnancy, works with colleges to educate students on sexual and reproductive health. Since the pandemic started, the organization had to shift from mostly in-person events to online programming, including workshops and presentations on sexual health.
The new Generation Z students embrace the availability of social media and it has proven to work by reaching a larger number of students at a much faster pace then paper handout of e mail notifications.
Tik Tok has various channels that address safe sex and how to be aware of your surroundings. The Bedsider, is one that shares videos and offers a free birth control support network. Another is, The Rape, Abuse and Incest National Network’s (RAINN) where videos are posted and demonstrate various techniques to practice bystander intervention and self-care.
Data collected from 4000 Generation Z youth Nationwide.
Many college-aged students when polled in 2020 regarding type of sex education they received back in their middle and high school years, simply stated that sexual education was a brief non detailed meniscal part of their schooling. According to trysustain.com, only eight states require consent to be a topic that is taught in sex education classes and these five states, Arizona, Mississippi, Texas, Florida, and Arkansas are not required to offer any sexual education courses to middle or high school youth if funding is unavailable.
In another pole conducted in late 2020 via an online survey with college students they were asked to recall what topics were taught in their sex education class. Over 79% marked the basics of abstinence is best and for protection use a condom. The 2nd part of the survey focused on consensual versus nonconsensual sex, oral sex, STD testing facilities, symptoms and how to come to terms if you have been a victim of sexual assault. 74% of students did not recall such details being taught. The 3rd part of the survey asked these Generation Z students how many have or are engaging in safe sex practices. The survey concluded with how many knew that there were free resources available to them for regular STD testing, STD/pregnancy prevention kits and support groups for anyone who might have been a victim of sexual assault. The results were not what the analysists were expecting. Of the 4000 students poled, 88% did answer yes to receiving basic HIV and STD warnings but what shocked the analysis was 47% of students polled, said they were refraining from sexual activity with a partner. Further analysis of this data found that these students have less social face to face interaction and 43% of students polled said all their communication is via online or various social media apps.
What part does Society’s play
The way society and the media continue to portray sex as a taboo thing and having sex or questions regarding sex are not to be discussed is a lot of the reason that sexual assaults go un-reported and STD’s undetected. It does not help that when President Trump was in office sexual education programs were told to focus on the importance of abstinence and youth were not provided alternative resources if they were engaging in sexual activity. If our society continues to shame sex and any taboo thoughts must not be spoken or discussed, we are going to be taking steps backwards in educating the future generations.
Most recent statistics on sexual assault are very disturbing. In 2019, over 652,676 women were raped, and this number is on the rise. 40% of women have encountered some type of sexual violence and 80% of female assault victims were under the age of 25. Men are victims too with most recent data showing 28% of men who were sexually assaulted were under the age of 10 years old. Less than 20% of rapes both male and female are ever reported due to fear that the victim was the reason they were raped. Further data analysis shows that close to 70 woman every day across the United States alone commit suicide due to being a victim of sexual assault. Studies show these numbers are not decreasing One in six women will suffer some type of sexual assault and 80% of victims knew their attacker making them less likely to report the incident. 1.7 million rape victims just in the United States were raped by an intimate partner. These numbers are not improving and as a society we need to ask ourselves what we are doing wrong.
With sex education reverting to the basics and not going into depth regarding consensual versus non-consensual see and how to see signs of danger. Our youth are taught about STD’s and abstinence as a form of prevention but are they taught what symptoms to look for a possible infection? Are resources readily provided and available to them if they think they might be in danger. For a moment, consider not just the victim but the attacker. What are the consequences for committing such crimes? From the research conducted for this study the most alarming number documented was that for every 1000 rapes reported, 995 attackers do not serve time for the crime. Our criminal system does not enforce consequences for this type of behavior.
Another alarming statistic was that over 450 billion US dollars annually is spent on funding sexual assault facilities and disability for victims to traumatized to live a normal life and due to this figure less funds are put towards sexual education programs, therefore, our society is going backwards in lowering the number of sexual crimes committed and reported.
What can we as the American people do?
First, we need to educate each other why our system is not working. Why funds are being pulled from sexual education programs and why criminals are not being held accountable for their crimes. We need to create awareness to victims that they are not to blame, and they must come forward. Media and society need to stop the shaming of victims coming forward even if years after the crime was committed. If a child is not taught that rape by a family member is wrong, then the crime goes unpunished, and the child suffers long term psychological damage as she or he matures. It all comes back to education, resources, signs of possible danger and how to protect yourself.
The criminal system needs to be harsher and enforced for these horrific crimes. It is time that society stops shaming sex and nudity. It is time to take the blame off sex workers and the porn industry and place the blame back at the real issue, the system. Studies statistically have shown repeatedly that 80 % of victims knew their attacker and the route of the attacker’s illness, stem back to lack of education. It is time to stop shaming sex and anything taboo or related to kink and focus on educating our future.