Obama Establishes Task Force on Sexual Assault, Says Fathers Should Teach Sons Respect for Women
President Obama today established a task force with representatives from several agencies "to develop a coordinated federal response to campus rape and sexual assault."
"Studies show that about one in five women is a survivor of attempted or completed sexual violence while in college. In addition, a substantial number of men experience sexual violence during college. Although schools have made progress in addressing rape and sexual assault, more needs to be done to ensure safe, secure environments for students of higher education," said the directive from the president's office.
Obama elaborated at a White House event with the Council on Women and Girls.
"We've got to keep teaching young men in particular to show women the respect they deserve and to recognize sexual violence and be outraged by it, and to do their part to stop it from happening in the first place. During our discussion earlier today, we talked about I want every young man in America to feel some strong peer pressure in terms of how they are supposed to behave and treat women. And that starts before they get to college," Obama said.
"So those of us who are fathers have an obligation to transmit that information. But we can do more to make sure that every young man out there -- whether they're in junior high or high school or college or beyond -- understand what's expected of them and what it means to be a man, and to intervene if they see somebody else acting inappropriately. We're going to need to encourage young people, men and women, to realize that sexual assault is simply unacceptable."
Obama adviser Valerie Jarrett said on MSNBC that the president is armed with statistics that show "one in five women in their lifetime" will be victims of sexual assault, "but 80 percent of those will happen before they're the age of 25."
"And half of them will happen before the age of 18. So, the evidence that's in this new report really gives us a different -- additional ammunition to go back to the college and university presidents, many of whom were here last week and we raised this issue with them then, to say: What more can we do?" Jarrett said.
She said drugs and alcohol on college campuses "a big part of the problem, but that's no excuse."
"And one of the other important steps that the president took a number of years ago was to change the definition of rape. It used to be far too narrow. It didn't cover men. It didn't cover people who were intoxicated to the degree where they were unconscious. So we've broadened the definition," Jarrett said.
"...We also need to have transparency so when a young person is applying to a college or university, wouldn't it be helpful to know whether they're going to be in a safe environment? What are the number of incidences of rape and assault on those college campuses? I know as a parent, I would want my child informed about that before going to college, and that's what we're committed to doing."