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LISD needs to include sexual assault in curriculum

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The most current and alarming statistics by NCTSN are that 1 in 4 girls and 1 in 6 boys will be victims of sexual assault before 18. With over 52,000 students in LISD, this is an issue that some students have already faced, or will face in adulthood. Due to this, it is important for students to know what behavior is appropriate and where legal boundaries lie, especially before they move on to college and for the rest of their lives. In 2014-2015, LISD introduced a suicide prevention curriculum. While this program is necessary, sexual assault is another pressing issue that should be addressed.

Measures need to be taken to ensure survivors safety and recovery. Currently, as this is not an issue we talk about students who have been assaulted in LISD may not know what to do, or what options they have in regards to healing after being assaulted. Sexual assault can have debilitating effects on mental health such as depression, anxiety, PTSD, lowered self esteem and eating disorders. Counselors need to be more available to show students that they have an in school safe place they can go to, to talk about how they’re feeling and receive information on healthy coping mechanisms.

An aspect that makes sexual assault so difficult to talk about is that students may not know exactly what it is. In Texas, it’s defined as any form of unwanted sexual contact and is considered a crime of violence. The suicide awareness curriculum includes symptoms and explanations of depression and suicidal thoughts to make it easier to understand. In a sexual assault curriculum, we need more than textbook definitions. The lack of distinct definitions for things like consent and harassment cause us to create the missing definitions ourselves. This leaves room for opinions, which make it harder to inform or teach students accurately. We need to be clear and informed about specific aspects of sexual assault.

A drawback of district wide curriculum is that some students don’t take it seriously in a group setting. Being around classmates who don’t take it seriously halt any sort of comfortable, productive discussion about suicide prevention, and the videos are seen as robotic and surface level.

In a sexual assault curriculum, we suggest using personal examples involving real people, rather than powerpoints with textbook interpretation of sexual assault. Real stories from sexual assault survivors would help connect the audience to the videos. Information on how and where to report an assault are essential and need to be a highlighted part of the program. Students should also learn how they can support victims of sexual assault, and what they can do in terms of helping.

LISD’s use of the suicide prevention program has been a good addition to our education, but now it’s time to include other relevant topics. Sexual assault should no longer be swept under the rug. It’s time that we openly talk about saving teens and young adults from the life-altering trauma that sexual assault brings.



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Marcus High School's Online Publication
LISD needs to include sexual assault in curriculum