Into the light:

The beginning of a better world

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If sexual violence remains hidden among all demographies, it will retain its grasps onto the lesser parts of human nature and behavior. The best first step to mitigate this scourge is acknowledge all the complexities of the issue. Discussion alone will not have any affect toward a positive outcome without leading to action.

History is littered with examples of human enrichment spawned by discussion, but executed by definable actions. For example, lamenting the darkness and discussing it in no way, by itself, invented the light-bulb. It took determination, persistence, and hard-work to light the world with electricity. In the same way, to bring the problem of sexual abuse into the light, there must be determination, persistence, and labor. Blogs are not enough. Rallies for the victims are not enough. Vigilante justice is undesirable and will only escalate problems. There are ways to take action that will lead to a better world.

One such example of beneficial action is the legislation before congress known as Campus Accountability and Safety Act (CASA). This bill, if approved and enforced, “would allow the Department of Education to fine schools up to 1 percent of their operating budget for violations of Title IX, the gender equity law requiring schools to handle sexual assault and harassment reports.”

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If CASA would have been in effect in 2012, and the three schools mentioned earlier with the largest endowments had been found guilty of violating the provision of the act, the 1% levy against them would have totaled $98,000,000.

If this one percent proves ineffective in instituting change, then it could be adjusted upwards to the critical point where institutions fully understand that they will be financially punished until they change their culture. Perpetrators of these abuses also must be held to the same level of accountability as other criminals. The cost to the victims and society are so great, that the guilty must be punished proportionate to the inflicted damage.

Political activism will not provide universal relief to all victims. Some will need greater measure of compassion and understanding. Their journey of recovery will be furthered when they are helped to find the strength to share their tragic stories.

Those stories will likely be shared initially with trusted friends and family. As difficult as it is to bring these attacks into the light, it is essential that the ones they confide in encourage and strengthen victims to take a stand. Real social change starts from the ground up, as well as from the top down. The time is now for the changing of private attitudes toward a public problem.

The time for darkness is over.

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