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Sexual Assault Prevention Education: Getting the Message Through to Students

A campus-produced movie helps West Virginia University staff effectively and appropriately discuss this sensitive topic.

No one enjoys broaching the subject of sexual violence. Most college students feel squeamish just thinking about it, and their parents may not know or want to know that it happens so frequently. But because nearly one in four women will be sexually assaulted at some point during their college careers, no institution of higher education can avoid the subject.

So how can university administrators and law enforcement professionals tackle this topic effectively, appropriately, and with limited funding, time, personnel and student attention spans?

These were the struggles West Virginia University (WVU) Sexual Assault Prevention Educator Deb Beazley faced when she began presenting sexual assault prevention classes in 1998.

Facts and Stats Bore Young Adults

“As any good middle-aged person would do, I started out thinking that if I just presented the facts, then the students would change,” she says. “So I came up with a wonderful presentation with many statistics, and I put the students to sleep ever so quickly.”

Beazley realized that in order for her to be more effective in delivering her sexual assault prevention message, she would need to involve students in her presentations. For about three or four years she had a drama group put on the programs, with mixed results.

“That was more entertaining but not entirely realistic,” she says. “A few times when it got too realistic, it was uncomfortable.”

She also tried a peer education program. “It was very good, but it’s hard to maintain student/peer health education groups,” she says.

About the Author

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Robin has been covering the security and campus law enforcement industries since 1998 and is a specialist in school, university and hospital security, public safety and emergency management, as well as emerging technologies and systems integration. She joined CS in 2005 and has authored award-winning editorial on campus law enforcement and security funding, officer recruitment and retention, access control, IP video, network integration, event management, crime trends, the Clery Act, Title IX compliance, sexual assault, dating abuse, emergency communications, incident management software and more. Robin has been featured on national and local media outlets and was formerly associate editor for the trade publication Security Sales & Integration. She obtained her undergraduate degree in history from California State University, Long Beach.

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