As school is starting up again, we are noticing year after year something in us is changing, we’re scared. Whether it be the fear of what someone keeps hidden in their back pack, the fear to walk home from class alone or the fear of what could happen if you go to a party; we’re scared.
As a young woman on a college campus, I already take many precautions during my daily routine. I never walk alone at night, I lock my house and car doors immediately as I get inside, I ignore men if I am ever called out to and I even carry pepper spray for emergencies. It is simply how I was raised to keep myself safe, but it seems harder and harder to feel any sense of security nowadays.
A federal study reports that in the last 15 years, numbers of rape and sexual assault on college campuses have surged 205%, with a disturbing 6,700 cases in 2014. To add to the surrealness of that statistic, that is only of the women who came forward with their case, the truth is that 95% of sexual assault cases go unreported. There is more than we realize and it is happening everyday.
Many college campuses are trying to take the proper steps to control this rising number, such as increasing security, bystander programs and pushing the meaning and definition of consent, but truly, it all gets so blurred. College campuses can only do so much when most cases of sexual assault reportedly happen at late-night parties or off-campus where the university cannot intervene as much. We as students need to change.
Victims can only do so much, our brains have been drilled with tips like watching our drinks, monitoring our outfits and always keeping the buddy system, but the real problem and blame lies on the predator, not the prey. We need to continue to educate and push the meaning of consent and the consequences of sexual assault. We need to teach men not to rape, not teach women to be scared.
Unfortunately, that’s not the only thing lingering in our heads as we head into another school year. The rise in mass shootings is something that I think about every single school day. With every classroom I enter, I subconsciously plan out my emergency escape route and always study the people around me as intently as possible. It is a fear I wish I could let go of, but I’m not the only one.
School shootings aren’t a political discussion, it is a fact that the number is rising and the shootings are becoming deadlier. Exactly 20 years after Columbine and we are only seeing more and more student lives claimed.
“Between 2016 and 2018, eight multiple-victim shootings claimed the lives of 31 kids at primary, middle and high schools in the United States...by comparison, 90 kids died in 30 multiple-victim homicides at school during the previous two decades, between July 1994 and June 2016, the data showed,” Web MD claims discussing poor mental health.
It’s not a debate, we don’t get to have opinions on this anymore, kids are dying. We are fine knowing that companies are selling bulletproof backpacks and we are teaching students how to patch up their peers' bullet wounds, but we cringe when we hear the words “gun control”. Being a student in the U.S. right now is absolutely terrifying and I know that it isn’t normal for me to go to school everyday and wonder if I’ll be lucky enough to not get murdered or raped that day.
We have a major problem in our nation. Students are scared, we know we aren’t safe and we feel like we’re on our own to protect ourselves. I don’t know a perfect solution, or if anyone does, but the best thing we can collectively do is keep a conversation rolling. Whether it’s about gun control, or the rape epidemic on campuses, we need to not let all of this become normalized. There is a problem and it shouldn’t be ignored. We need help.