OPINION: Learn how to identify sexual assault to prevent it

Education is first step to lowering rates of sexual assault —consent is key


There are multiple occasions when sexual assault can occur with someone the victim knows personally, whether it be a family member, coworker or friend. 

Aydan Garland-Miner, president and founder of Period WSU, said the theory that a lot of people get sexually assaulted by random strangers is false. 

“It can totally be random people,” she said. “But I think that it is more common that it happens with people that you do know, whether it’s your partner, or your friends, or your acquaintances or family members.” 

I agree with Garland-Miner on this; stranger danger is a real thing, but a lot of the time, sexual assault can happen within the comfort of your own home or workplace, by someone you trust.

While sexual assault happens frequently, people can spread awareness by educating themselves and the people around them on how to identify and prevent it. 

“The people that have gone through it, it’s not their responsibility to talk about it,” Garland-Miner said. “But I do think we need to have a more open, honest conversation about sexual assault and how prevalent it is.” 

Garland-Miner said education is incredibly important, and I agree with that. I think people should start learning about sexual assault at a younger age, but in a way they can understand. 

Garland-Miner said a lot of people who have been sexually assaulted do not even know they have been assaulted. I think that is because there is not enough proper education on the subject. 

She said sexual assault is rarely ever talked about in sex education in grades 6-12.

“I think that would be a great place to start, including it in a sex education curriculum,” she said. 

I agree with this as well. I think that if people are taught at a younger age such as middle and high school age it would help them learn how to identify sexual assault and understand exactly what happened. 

Grace Jacobsen, freshman mathematics teaching major, said children at a younger age should be taught the correct terms for body parts at home.

“I hear a lot about … asking permission. Like, hey I need to help you change or something,” she said. “So asking kids permission from a young age and teaching them accurate vocabulary [helps].”

I agree with Jacobsen, because a lot of the time, parents feel uncomfortable teaching their children the proper terms for their bodies, which can result in children not being able to communicate what happened if they end up getting assaulted.

Along with Garland-Miner, Jacobsen believes that sex education should be more open to talking about sexual assault.

Jacobsen said consent is an important part of the educational aspect and should be taught more in sex education.

I think the big issue of not learning about consent early is that people do not understand what it means when someone does not give a hard yes, and some people never learned the idea of consent and are unsure of how to say no.

“I think briefly we talked about how to say no to something but that was just about drugs and alcohol,” she said. “I don’t think we ever really learned what consent is…they don’t really teach it [in school].”

Jacobsen said consent should really be prioritized in sex education. She said it needs to be a black-and-white area when it is more of a gray area right now.