A startling statistic has estimated that one in five women will be sexually assault during their college experience, prompting a new push to help schools do a better job with prevention and response to such incidents. The White House Task Force to Protect Students from Sexual Assault has 90 days to come up with recommendations, which should include the training of college leadership and responders on treating the issue as the serious crime it is, said Anita Carpenter, chief executive of the Indiana Coalition Against Sexual Assault.
“Student affairs offices, campus law enforcement, they really are working these issues very hard,” she said. “I think they have some inherent challenges and we just need to raise more awareness that these resources are available and out there.”
She said those who have been sexually assaulted are more likely to later face depression, battle substance abuse or suffer from a wide range of physical ailments.
In announcing the creation of the task force, President Obama also called on men to become more involved in prevention. Carpenter said that really could help shift the tide.
“When the majority of the perpetrators are male,” she said, “if we don’t bring men to the table to engage them in the solution, to get them involved in changing the paradigm and norms that perpetuate sexual violence, then we just continue to put a Band-Aid on a problem.”
In the United States, it’s estimated that about 22 million women and 1.6 million men have been sexually assaulted in their lifetimes.