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Over 99 percent of sexual assault perpetrators walk free. Think about that. Out of 1000 rapes, 994 of the perpetrators will not be convicted. This means their crimes were either reported and they were not convicted, or their crimes were never reported in the first place. Either way, someone who has violated another person gets away with little to no punishment for their crimes.

In the United States, sex education is not mandatory. It is up to the state governments to decide if and how public schools in their state will teach students about sex and sexual health. Only 34 states and the District of Colombia mandate sex and HIV education, and 12 out of those 34 only mandate HIV education. Out of those 34 states, only 13 require that the information taught is medically accurate and only eight require that the information taught not be biased toward one religion, race, or gender. This basically means that several states don’t require sex education in schools, and out of those that do, only a small number teach medically accurate unbiased facts. In many cases, the sex education taught only covers abstinence-promoting, heteronormative penetrative sex between a man and a woman. There is no LGBTQ+ sex education, no in-depth contraception education, no education on consent. Many things go untaught in American sex education, but one of the most glaring things is education on rape and sexual assault. Education on such topics is not mandated for high schools in the United States, and this type of information is often not formally given to students until they are in college, when it is much too late.

About half of teenagers in the United States are sexually active, and approximately 32 percent of sexual assault victims are under 18 years old. Many of these young people don’t know what to do when they are raped because they were not taught. They don’t know who to talk to, or if they can even talk to anyone because the stigma around rape victims is so negative that they are often afraid to come forward and say that they were raped. They are afraid that they will be blamed for the sexual assault because of what they were wearing, their behavior or if they were intoxicated. If schools were to straightforwardly teach students that sexual assault is in no way the victim’s fault and completely the fault of the perpetrator, victim blaming would be a thing of the past.

Along with not covering the general topic of sexual assault, sex education in schools doesn’t normally cover what it means to consent to sex and what it means to be raped or sexually assaulted. The only way for sex or sexual acts to be consensual is if both parties consciously consented. If this is unknown or either party did not consent, it is rape or sexual assault. Not all victims know this. If they were not educated on consent, the victim may hide the fact that they were raped or sexually assaulted because of their lack of knowledge.

Rape education is necessary not only for the victims but for the general public as well. If we are to end the stigma of victim blaming and see a dramatic decrease in rapes, properly mandated rape education is needed. A more educated public will lead to a society with more sexual assaults actually being reported, more convictions for the perpetrators and overall fewer cases of sexual assault.

Featured Photo: “Take Rape Seriously” via Charlotte Cooper, Flickr.

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Madeline Bruce
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Madeline is a 19 year old university student studying English. She enjoys feministic television shows, writing about her feelings, and drinking multiple cups of coffee daily. She hopes to study at the Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern University after her undergrad and one day work as the editor-in-chief of a well-known publication.

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