Incoming university and college students across Canada are excited to begin a new chapter. Many parents will lecture their children on maintaining healthy study habits, keeping their dorm rooms clean and organized, and practicing good budgeting skills. Conversations some parents may not have with these young adults are about the increased risk of sexual violence across higher education campuses.
The highest rates of sexual violence on campus occur within the first year of higher education, and the most incidents occur within the first few weeks on campus (Canadian Federation of Students, 2015). The widespread availability of technology and social media has influenced sexual and health education. Subsequently, much of this media has spread misinformation on appropriate behaviours pertaining to healthy relationships and sexual activities. This missed opportunity to educate young minds on safety in dating contributes to the rise in unhealthy relationships and dating across higher education campuses in Canada. Without parental intervention, many young people are entering this uncertain period in their lives lacking clear direction, and misinformed practices on navigating safe and healthy relationships.
Recently, the Government of Ontario has released their revised version of the sexual and healthy education curriculum. The curriculum remains largely unaltered from the release in 2015, which includes much needed topics on: consent, same-sex relationships, gender, sexuality and healthy relationships. With comprehensive sexual health education curriculum, schools are well placed to facilitate conversations among young people about gender, sexuality and choice. Education is the first step in reducing sexual violence. Ontarians must learn what actions are appropriate, and which actions are respectful towards intimate partners. With education, we will be able to reduce the cycle and pervasiveness of sexual violence and rape culture.
Canadian Federation of Students. (Spring 2015). Sexual Violence on Campus. Canadian Federation of Students. Retrieved from: https://cfs-fcee.ca/wp-content/uploads/2018/10/Sexual-Violence-on-Campus.pdf