The Huffington Post
“The problems that have been very high-profile in the campus sexual assault arena aren’t problems in a vacuum.”
A new California law requiring 7th- through 12th-grade students to be educated about sexual harassment and assault will enter its first full year of implementation this fall, and experts and advocates say schools have the opportunity to address troubling attitudes about gender and power that they say can contribute to sexual harassment and even assaults on college campuses.
Many school cultures trivialize harassment, tolerate language that degrades girls and women, and leave unchallenged the misconception that masculinity means being superior and aggressive and femininity means being inferior and submissive, said Erin Prangley, associate director of government relations for the American Association of University Women, a Washington, D.C.-based research and policy organization. These unchecked attitudes emerge at an early age and help create a mindset that, at the college level, has the potential to contribute to sexual assaults, such as the case of Brock Turner at Stanford University, she said.
“The problems that have been very high-profile in the campus sexual assault arena aren’t problems in a vacuum,” Prangley said, without referring to the specific circumstances of the Turner assault.
“A lot of these assaults are symptoms of how children were socialized to be in relationships with other children and, ultimately, with intimate partners,” said Emily Austin, director of advocacy services at the California Coalition Against Sexual Assault, a Sacramento-based nonprofit organization.