Education as Prevention: Youth, Sexual Violence and Mental Health

Historically, many cultures in which we live have recommended silence as a way to deal with uncomfortable issues such as sexual violence.

Think about the ways in which our parents, grandparents, elders and communities have often dealt with difficult issues – grief, domestic violence, addiction, just to name a few – in the past. The idea that we should not talk about sexual violence with young people has similar roots as a taboo or unmentionable subject. But this message doesn’t help young people.

Education on sexual violence goes a long way towards the prevention of sexual violence. Education offers ways to challenge sexual assault myths and victim-blaming; and to reach out to young people to talk about things that they may not be talking about at home.  It can also help those who have had a personal experience with sexual violence.

Education on sexual violence contributes to the prevention of sexual violence (and its harms) by:

  • supporting young people to understand their rights
  • identifying the continuum of sexual violence (from harassment to rape)
  • supporting young people to challenge sexual assault myths
  • helping youth to know the laws concerning sexual assault and consent
  • normalizing feelings experienced by survivors of violence
  • educating bystanders to recognize sexual violence, and intervene to support others.

Last, education helps others learn how to respond to survivors who disclose their experiences, and direct them to helpful supports in the community.

Read more about how education can help to prevent sexual violence and increase youth mental health.

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