DUBUQUE, Iowa (KWWL) – While sexual assault as been widely discussed on college campuses, unfortunately, teenagers in high school could be missing out on that conversation.
Title IX is the federal law that protects students from gender discrimination. It also establishes rules that all schools, including colleges and public schools, must follow to address incidents of sexual violence.
School officials are required to report any cases of sexual violence to local authorities. Those reports are recorded annually and sent to the Department of Education.
Studies have found that one in three women and one in six men will become victims off sexual assault in their lifetime. And some of these attacks can occur before a teenager starts college.
Brandi Lewin, Regional Sexual Response Team Coordinator for the Riverview Center, said that the freedoms of being a teenager can also put them at risk to become victimized.
“They’re doing the same things that the college students are doing,” said Lewin. “They’re dating, they’re starting to go out, they’re driving. We can’t, as parents, keep them under our thumbs anymore and be able to be with them 24/7.”
Which is why there has been a growing movement for public schools to discuss sexual consent in their sex education courses. Currently, state sex education only focuses on age-appropriate health education.
Mae Hingtgen, Director of Behavior and Learning Support for the Dubuque Community School District, said that we need to start becoming more open to having conversations with teenagers about sex.
“For too long, schools, parents, communities, our country have not acknowledge the fact that teenagers do get involved in behaviors or they’re growing and finding a little more independence away from their parents so they’re in situations where there is less supervision,” said Hingtgen. “And so, for us, it’s about creating the conversation and finding a way for people to feel comfortable.”
Lewin said that having these open discussions could also help other victims of sexual violence come forward.
“That’s conversations with friends, that conversations with your significant other, and really opening up and being honest,” said Lewin. “And not making sex such a difficult conversation.”