Yesterday, with much fanfare, the White House announced a series of actions the administration will take, to curb sexual violence in US college campuses.
Although government studies show that one in five women are sexually assaulted while in college, less than 12% of the assaults are reported. After three months of work, the White House Task Force to Protect Students from Sexual Assault, which was established in January 2014 released its conclusions and recommendations. The task force’s report, entitled “Not Alone,” lays out several recommendations. In connection with yesterday’s release of the release, Vice President Joe Biden said: “Colleges and universities need to face the facts about sexual assault. No more turning a blind eye, or pretending it doesn’t exist. We need to give victims the support they need, like a confidential place to go, and we need to bring the perpetrators to justice.”
This is indeed a positive first step.
Chief among the report’s recommendations are measures designed to improve the reporting and recording of sexual assaults on campuses. Specifically, the government will push college for better recording of sexual violence on campuses. Secondarily, the government established the web site www.NotAlone.gov, aiming it to serve as a destination for sexual assault prevention, reporting, and response.
Sexual abuse on US campuses has been a widespread problem for too long. Recent exposure in college newspapers, in the New York Times, and an in other publications, are focusing attention on this serious problem.
The White House’s efforts are commendable. However, most of yesterday’s recommendations are focused on reporting and gathering data that will enable policy makers to better assess the problem. For example, schools are encouraged to conduct surveys to evaluate “attitudes and awareness” toward sexual assault. Initially, voluntarily, and perhaps later (pending legislation) mandatorily. It will take years for those efforts to bear fruit, and it will take even longer for any societal changes to reduce the prevalence of attempted rape on campuses. Furthermore, just because the government punishes a college (as happened last year, when Yale University received a $165,000 fine for failing to disclose four sexual assault cases) or the perpetrator (which is quite rare these days), the damage to the victim has already been done. This damage cannot be easily reversed.
As the old saying goes “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.” While we wait for government effort to bear fruit, it is my opinion that having solid self defense skills is the best antidote for combating sexual violence on college, in the military, at work, and at home. Still, the administration’s attention to the problem of sexual assault is commendable.
Keep training your martial arts and self defense skills! We hope we will never have to use them. If we do, such skills are indispensable!