Friday, April 18, 2014

Prevent Terror At the Prom: Educate Your Students About Sexual Assault Awareness

Friday, April 18, 2014

Now that spring break is over, it time to get ready for our final school year activities. The two biggest events, that almost all our students look forward to at the end of the year, is prom and graduation (oh, how I remember both of those events like their were yesterday...sigh). There is such great preparation for these events by everyone at our school...especially prom!!  

Since September, our staff and students have worked very hard on preparations for the big dance. They voted on their theme (The Great Gatsby), a venue was selected, the DJ was chosen, and tomorrow (our prom is Saturday) the majority of our students will vacate school for preparations.  I know that many of my girls tell me that they spend hours getting ready for prom and some spend up to $1000 on their wardrobe (really?).  Then there are the events around prom: the pictures, the dinner, the limo ride, the after party, and then for some students, the hotel room. Of course as school employees, we cannot control what happens after prom, but we can educate students about prom safety. Since April is Sexual Assault Awareness Month, it is great time to educate students about keeping safe during prom season.

What is Sexual Assault Awareness Month?

Since most sexual assaults occur before the age of 18, many organizations (Rape, Abuse, Incest National Network (RAINN), CDC, and the National Sexual Violence Resource Center) have created campaign materials and resources for parents and professionals to use with their teens. The US Department of Health and Human Services reported that 39% of high school senior boys felt that it was acceptable to force a girl to have sex if she was under the influence of alcohol and/or drugs.   The following materials can be used to educate students regarding safe relationships and decisions they make, particularly during the prom.

SAAM Materials

What Should Students Know?

For many students, prom is that night where they can lay down their inhibitions and experiment with alcohol, drugs, and other risky behaviors. Before students put themselves in a dangerous situation, it is important to educate them on how they can maintain their safety.

Students should know that they have the right to feel safe during prom whether with a group of friends or with a date. The Love Is Respect campaign educates students about sexual coercion or "the use of intimidation, drugs, alcohol, threats, or force to have sexual contact with someone against their will". In this campaign, students should know how to plan ahead for emergencies that could occur during the prom and how to set safe boundaries.

Safe Plans include:

1.  Let your parents know where you will be in case of an emergency (provide your itinerary).
2.  Make an agreement with your friends that you will check in with each other during the night or weekend.
3.  Be sure to have the phone numbers of people you trust and who can come get you if you get in bad situation.
4.  Avoid drinking alcohol and/or taking drugs.
5.  Do not accept drinks from others and keep a close eye on your drink. Students should be aware that the number one date rape drug is alcohol.
6.  Stay with a group of people and avoid going off alone.
7.  Keep your cell phone with you and fully charged.

Safe Dating Pointers:

1. Before deciding to act on impulse, ask for the other person's consent.
2. Respect the boundaries of another person (i.e. "no means no").
3. Employ good sexual decision making ("Am I ready for sex at this point in my life?")

Girl's Safety Is Everyone's Business: Six Things Guys Can Do Protect Protect Girls from Sexual Assault at the Prom (Adapted from the White Ribbon Campaign)

1. Believe the stories of those who have been assaulted. No one asks for or deserves this type of treatment.
2. Don't walk on by if you witness sexual assault. Assess the risk then intervene, confront, or defuse the situation.  If you need to, get help! This is called bystander intervention.
3. Connect victim to support staff at your school-SRO, administrator, school counselor, social worker, or school nurse.
4. Be an example to your friends by refusing to harass other females. 
5. Be a role model by challenging others not to harass or assault females.
6. Make a difference by educating others.


A Needed Response Video

Love Is Respect: Prom With No Expectation
Setting Relationship Boundaries

Information for Parents

Campbell High School prom and graduation season brochure for parents

Sexual Assault Awareness Projects

Clothesline Project-Project that started in 1990 which persuades women to express their emotions by creating a t-shirt and hanging the t-shirt on a clothesline to be viewed by others as a testament to end violence against women.

White Ribbon Campaign-Campaign that inspires male teens to embrace the role they can play to make a difference regarding consent, street harassment, and sexual assault. Help males to reject the toxic ideas of manhood by helping them know when to draw the line and speak out against harassment.
Denim Day -Awareness campaign where staff and students wear jeans to protest sexual assault on the school campus.