Lewis Diuguid

‘Wear black to stop attacks’ brings needed attention to sexual assault crimes

Students at St. Teresa’s Academy in Kansas City wore black Wednesday as did students at other Kansas City area schools in response to a girl who reported being sexually assaulted last week in a boys bathroom at Shawnee Mission East High School.
Students at St. Teresa’s Academy in Kansas City wore black Wednesday as did students at other Kansas City area schools in response to a girl who reported being sexually assaulted last week in a boys bathroom at Shawnee Mission East High School. Twitter

Young people throughout the Kansas City area are bringing needed attention to the crime of sexual assault that girls and women face.

On Wednesday, many teens at area high schools wore black in response to a sexual assault of a student at Shawnee Mission East High School. With Twitter and other social media, the “wear black to stop attacks” spread Tuesday night.

The impressive result was that hundreds of students wore black at co-ed public high school Shawnee Mission East, all-female private high schools Notre Dame de Sion and St. Teresa’s Academy and all-male Rockhurst High School, The Kansas City Star reports.

It was in response to a freshman girl at Shawnee Mission East last week reporting that a male student groped and fondled her inside a boys bathroom while another boy held the door shut. The sexual assault case is being investigated by Prairie Village police, who plan to submit the results to the Johnson County prosecutor for possible criminal charges.

It’s not the first time that teens at Kansas City area high schools have reported being sexually assaulted on campus.

In 2013, a 17-year-old student at Southwest Early College Campus reported that she was dragged into a small, second-floor room in the middle of a school day and sexually assaulted. Two boys, ages 14 and 15, were charged with first-degree rape.

In 2014, 14-year-old girl with autism reported that she was repeatedly raped at Southwest in Kansas City Public Schools. A juvenile boy and girl were arrested in that case. The attack occurred just months after the 2013 sexual assault.

Such crimes are unacceptable at schools, which are responsible for the safety of all students in addition to ensuring that they receive a good education.

The “wear black to stop attacks” movement needs to spread to other schools in this metropolitan area and to colleges, where sexual assaults also have been a recurring problem for young women.

It’s encouraging that more is being done to arrest the sexual violence against women.

The Heartland Sexual Assault Policies & Prevention on Campuses Project announced that the University of Kansas team has received a three-year, $750,000 grant from the U.S. Department of health and Human Services Office on Women’s Health to research sexual assault policies at eight college campuses in Kansas, Missouri and Nebraska. The goal is to prevent sexual assaults on post-secondary school campuses “based on a gender-centered public health framework.”

It has a lot of potential to be successful with a team of Alesha Doan, KU associate professor of political science and in the School of Public Affairs and Administration; Juliana Carlson, assistant professor in the KU School of Social Welfare; and Natabhona Mabachi, a research assistant professor of Family Medicine at KU Medical Center.

In addition to KU and Kansas State University, researchers will examine Harris-Stowe State University in St. Louis; Lincoln University in Jefferson City; Rockhurst University in Kansas City; Crowder College, a community college in Webb City, Mo.; the University of Nebraska-Kearney; and Nebraska Wesleyan University in Lincoln.

Students on college campuses nationwide have brought needed attention to sexual assaults with rallies, demanding that:

▪ Administrators do more to protect women from sexual violence.

▪ Thoroughly and independently investigate cases.

▪ Appropriately punish the suspects.

▪ Be more transparent about the number of reported rapes and sexual assaults on campuses.

Several lawsuits and national news stories also have forced a closer examination of the crimes on college campuses.

It’s all important because the sexual violence that many teens and young women endure often emotionally and psychologically derails their ability to focus to get through school, enter their intended profession and have a good future. Ending rape and sexual assault has to be a priority in this area and nationwide.

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