The news is filled with stories of people coming forward years later about their experiences of sexual assault. Many may question why they have taken so long to talk about what happened to them. The reality is that is not our business. Every person responds to trauma like sexual assault differently. Post-traumatic stress, anxiety about coming forward, and fear of being blamed are all realities for many victims. The fact remains that it does not matter when they come out, it’s important that they want to and it can often protect others from becoming victims.
Working to Break the Cycle
How do we help to try to stop this cycle? The first step is for all counselors and professionals in schools to work together. We must make sure that students feel comfortable coming to one of us if they are in trouble. They need to know that you will listen to them, not judge them, and help them to get more support if needed. They also need to know that you will not blame them or take additional steps without their guidance.
As a school community, it is essential to make this type of service known to students. While you may suspect that girls will want this more than boys, either could be sexual assault victims and feel alone. In addition to this, you must make sure peers are able to report something they see. If they were at a party or saw a video on social media of a friend being compromised, they need to speak up. They need to know that it isn’t snitching and is making sure their friend is safe and getting help. All students must be aware of people they can trust and get to know over the time they are in a school.
Teaching Character Education
Another step in the process is to make sure character education across grade levels includes age-appropriate information related to this topic. Students must work on respecting themselves and all peers. They need to know that they may not pull power moves on others. Being disrespectful is a problem and should not be tolerated. As they get older, character education also needs to include respecting boundaries, keeping your hands off of others, and not using sexual innuendos.
When students have this type of background, they may be less likely to feel the need to take advantage of others. They also watch out for their friends and other peers and may speak up when they witness something that is not acceptable. Working as a community, they help to break the cycle as well.
What type of supports are set up in your schools to allow students to seek help if they have been sexually assaulted? Please share your experience with the protocols for this and how you have worked this topic into character education by commenting below.
Working in a school setting has multiple benefits, the main being shaping children’s education, academic progress, and supporting them throughout their schooling. Consider a career in school-based therapy or support services today by checking out our current openings here.