What prevents rape at military service academies?

Yelling-cadetA million years ago, when I was learning to teach swimming lessons for a summer job, my mentor instructor taught me the importance of giving critique sandwiches. Start with a positive, insert your critique and recommendations, end with a positive. Makes good sense, even now. I’m going to try and keep that in mind while reacting to an article I read last week, “How to Stop Sexual Assault at Military Service Academies: First, Legalize Sex.”

While reading, I wanted to make a list of things to react to. First of all, I think the author got something right. Are yelling, screaming, and hall patrols the solution to increased sexual assault reports—no, definitely not the answer. We’ll get back into what the answer really is, but for now, the critique.

The author writes: True sexual assault is of course a heinous crime and a big problem. But by and large the situation at Annapolis is not of this nature...”

Yes, I know what you’re thinking. I thought that all the backlash against political candidates this past election season set everyone straight on this whole “real rape,” “True sexual assault” issue too. For what I hope to be the last time—sexual violence is an awful experience, and people don’t make it up, inflate it, or have tiers of realness associated with it.

Further, increased reports are not necessarily a bad thing. Sexual violence happens. It’s quite commonly not reported. If you are working within an institution that is talking about it, providing better responses, and caring and compassionate to people who disclose it, then more and more people will report it instead of hiding it. It’s a little scary at first, but it’s also a sign of improvement at the beginning of anti-sexual violence efforts.

Ok, back to some happy thoughts. I think I could go on with thoughts and critiques and reactions, but I don’t want to spoil your reading experience, or bore you with my reactions to things. I think this writer is getting on the right track with this whole legalize sex business.  I feel strongly that encouraging healthy sexuality is a good starting point for sexual violence prevention. I’d like to see where some more conversations like this could go. Until that happens though, I’m super excited that the SAAM Campaign for 2013 is carrying on the healthy sexuality torch, and focusing on ways to foster healthy sexuality and development in children. Happy reading folks!

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