Despite the efforts to address the issue of sexual assaults at college campuses, it persists as a difficult and controversial problem that requires a multifaceted approach.
Recently, colleges around the country have been criticized for their reluctance to deal with sexual assault cases in their campuses, which are happening at an alarming rate. It does not help the case that there is still a significant social stigma about being a sexual assault victim, which makes it a difficult topic to cover, and often prevents students from being open about this issue. However, social psychologists, who conducted research on the problem of sexual assault and proposed several theories to approach this issue, argue that rape is preventable. Sociocultural theorists claim that there is a connection between sexual aggression against females and male perception of themselves, women role in society, and their perception of sexual activities. Many student activists and parents recognized the role of social processes in sexual assault and joined their effort in raising public awareness about rape. I do believe that this strategy is the most successful to reduce the risk of sexual assault. Research shows that about one-third of the sexual assault victims did not recognize actions taken against them as a sexual assault. This fact supports the idea that educating college students about sexual assault is imperative to prevent sexual violence. It is important to work with colleges to implement prevention strategies, such as awareness campaigns on victim-blaming and alcohol-related sexual aggression, to change social norms and cultural values that contribute to sexual violence among young people. Cognitive and affective theories suggest that sexual aggression is a by-product of distorted thinking. Research supports this idea: many of the offenders see their victims’ behavior as provocative, and believe that their victims’ response suggests they are enjoying rape. They often deny the fact that the act was nonconsensual, and do not want to take the responsibility for their actions. By educating students on the concept of consent, the issue of victim-blaming and legal consequences of rape, the offenders might see the bigger picture of the long-term consequences of their actions and victim harm. While parents often find it difficult to talk about sex or sexual assault with their kids, but it is necessary for their safety, especially since not all colleges provide adequate orientation. Parents should talk to their kids about these issues, and emphasize the way their kids’ behavior and decisions might be seen as suggestive, and what is the difference between a consensual act and sexual assault. Colleges, in turn, are responsible for enhancing protective factors, by creating and maintaining a safe environment on their campuses. Colleges have to be strict when dealing with rapists, reporting them to the police, and being open about the consequences of such violent actions. It is the responsibility of every member of college staff to be aware of and report any violent behavior, both from a legal and moral standpoint. It is also essential that colleges share statistics on sexual assault in their campuses so that it could be possible to monitor the situation and evaluate the outcome of different strategies.
Sexual assault is a complicated problem, but with the unified effort from college administration, students’ parents and students themselves, the risk of sexually aggressive behavior can be reduced.