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Sexual violence in schools – causes and prevention

 Sexual abuse is a serious problem in the American education system at all levels, from elementary school to college.

The problem of sexual violence in schools

Teachers and other adults who rape students often make the news, but experts say that sexual violence between students is a bigger problem. According to an Associated Press investigation in 2017 after a private home School is the second place where a child may experience sexual abuse from another child. In fact, for every report of sexual harassment by adults from students in schools, there were seven reports of sexual violence between students, according to the study.

School sexual assault statistics

School sexual assault is difficult to track because many school systems do not track incidents between students, reports the Associated Press. In fact, there is no national requirement to track sexual assaults by elementary and secondary school students against other students, and in fact, schools may have a distorted incentive to hide reports due to the state law requiring action by school officials.

“No principal wants his school to be a rape school and the newspaper is listed as under investigation. Schools are trying to bury it. It’s the brave principals who do the right thing,” former K-12 teacher and expert Dr. Bill Howe told AP reporters.

Based on data collected by AP

A total of approximately 17,000 formal complaints of student sexual harassment were filed between 2011 and 2015. AP reporters examine data provided by the FBI for the 2013-2014 school year. Data included reports of sexual violence in schools, including unwanted foreplay, penetration, rape and sodomy.

Four out of five reports were about unwanted caresses, meaning one in five students experienced more serious forms of sexual abuse, according to the Associated Press. Additionally, of the K-12 students who responded, 5% were between the ages of 5 and 6.

Also, according to AP News, data show that sexual violence occurs in all educational settings, from urban centers to affluent suburban schools.

College and university students, of course, also suffer from sexual violence. The National Rape, Harassment and Injury Network (RAINN), the country’s largest organization for dealing with sexual assault, reports that 13% of all college students are victims of sexual harassment. Including rape Additionally, RAINN reports that students are at greater risk of sexual violence than other crimes.

Causes of Sexual Violence in Schools

While it is disturbing to consider the extent of sexual violence in the education system affecting students as young as five years old, experts say school officials and parents need to understand the causes to prevent it.

There are a number of personal and relational risk factors associated with bullying. as well as the community and social risks that lead to sexual harassment at school.

In fact, people who are more likely to be sexually assaulted show a lack of empathy, aggression, violence, hostility toward women, excessive masculinity, and even suicidal behavior. In addition, alcohol and drug use are risk factors, as well as early sexual initiation, exposure to explicit sexual material, and / or previous sexual abuse or vulnerability.

The relational characteristics of the individual may also be taken into account. People who have experienced domestic violence or a history of sexual abuse in childhood are more likely to engage in sexual violence at school, as are people who encounter sexually abusive, hypermasculine, and criminal peers. Poor communities with few job opportunities and without police and judiciary support are more vulnerable to sexual violence in schools.

Furthermore, communities that experience sexual abuse are even more vulnerable to it.

Finally, the societal normalization of sexual violence and the preferences and rights of men, together with high levels of violent crime, are risk factors for sexual violence in schools. Furthermore, weak laws regarding sexual violence or equality are risk factors.

Preventing Sexual Violence

There are a number of laws enacted to help protect students who are sexually assaulted, but individuals and organizations can help prevent sexual violence before it happens.

Stopping sexual violence is difficult, but it can be done. The CDC notes that the following protective factors may reduce a student’s chances of experiencing or committing sexual violence during school:

  • Academic performance

  • Parents using conflict resolution

  • Connections and good emotional health

  • Concerns about others

Schools and communities may act to prevent sexual violence. These include empowering women and girls by offering leadership opportunities and financial support systems, as well as by teaching men and boys how to be allies.

Additionally, schools and caregivers can teach students sexual violence prevention skills, including healthy sexuality lessons, safe encounters, social and emotional skills, and empowerment.

Prevention efforts should also include protective environments. Security and monitoring programs need to be developed and approved, and policies need to be applied consistently. Adults should be aware of the signs of sexual abuse.

Finally, victims of sexual violence at school should be provided with appropriate treatment and services, as well as programs for students at risk when they start to misbehave.