Talking to your teen about campus sex assaults

Posted at 11:30 PM, Feb 18, 2016
and last updated 2018-12-27 11:22:34-05

Are you getting close to sending your child off to college?  When it’s time, you’ll get their books, their supplies, accessories for their dorm room.  But did you have “the talk?” Experts say parents need to be educating their teens on the issue of sexual assaults on college campuses, no matter how difficult it is.

The numbers are staggering. Every 107 seconds another sexual assault occurs.

On our college campuses, its estimated 1 in 4 women is sexually assaulted. Yet, sexual assault and rape is the most underreported of all crimes.

In one of the most recent national cases, a victim describes her alleged assault to CNN. She said, “He got on top of me and restrained me by my wrists and started raping me.”

She is one of six women who have filed a title nine lawsuit against the University of Tennessee for the way it handled the cases.

Back at home, Laura Clary is a nurse and clinical program manager for GBMC’s SAFE Program or Sexual Assault Forensic Examination program.

She sees the local victims including college students who come in every day.

“When I started doing this job I was surprised how young our population is, the majority of the patients we see here fall between the ages of 13 and 24,” Clary said.

Clary says education is so important and education should start at home.

“I think sometimes parents think this is something that's going to be discussed in college orientation and they're going to learn it there, but start it early start that conversation before you send them off to college," Clary said.

But how do you have that conversation with your child?

Clary said, “Say for example you're sitting there watching a TV show and something like this is on TV, use that as an opportunity to engage your child."

Clary said explain to your teen that they will be going off and making adult decisions.

She said, “explain to them that someone cannot consent to sexual intercourse or sexual activity when they are incapacitated by drugs or alcohol."

Clary goes onto says that the majority of their patients that come in after being sexually assaulted were in some kind of a social situation and under the influence.

She said, “Additionally, it happens a lot between people that know each other.”

Clary also wants parents to know that this is not just a female problem.

“I think we put a huge emphasis on women and telling them things they can do to prevent something like this from happening but it’s also important to talk to your sons," she said.

Many times victims do not want to come forward. But Clary says there are some signs to be aware of. A victim may become depressed, lose interest in activities, or their grades might start falling. For more information on the SAFE program, click here.

In support of Sexual Assault Awareness Month in April, GBMC will be hosting “Walk a Mile in Her Shoes,” where men walk a mile in high heels.

The fundraiser is a way to educate and advocate for those affected by sexual assault and domestic violence. It also supports the SAFE and domestic violence program at GBMC.

To learn more about “Walk a Mile in Her Shoes” click here.