Young women face the highest rates of dating violence and sexual assault. Nineteen percent of women (nearly 1 in 5) report experiencing sexual assault while in college. Many of these assaults occur when the offender, often an acquaintance, has targeted and isolated a young woman in vulnerable circumstances. Dating violence also disproportionately affects young women in this demographic. Young people turn to each other for help more often than they turn to parents, but most don’t know how to intervene if a friend needs help. Moreover, sixty percent of college students who have been in an abusive relationship say no one helped them. Websites, hotlines and resources are available for those who have experienced or are currently experiencing violence and abuse.
At the end of this article, we offer information and links to tools/gadgets women, and men, can use to help protect their safety.
The Department of Health and Human Services and the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy are collaborating with the Office of the Vice President (OVP) to help prevent sexual assault and dating violence on college campuses. Consistent with the Office of the Vice President’s focus on the high rates of dating violence and sexual assault violence committed against young women, this developer’s challenge encourages the creation of innovative applications to help young adults prevent violence and abuse.
The primary users of the application may include (but are not limited to) college/university students, residential advisors, sorority or fraternity members, and young men and women who would like to be role models and promote prevention in our communities. Everyone has a role to play in the prevention of violence and abuse, and while no one can do everything, everyone can do something. This application is envisioned to empower young people, in real time, to look out for their friends in order to prevent violence or assault before it occurs. The application should also be designed to provide potential bystanders with real-time support from friends and access to resources that will encourage them to intervene before abusive behavior happens and educate them about how to do so safely and effectively. This application is a step in enabling young women and men to take an active role in the prevention of dating violence and sexual assault.
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Measures you can take to protect your safety include the use of pepper spray, personal alarms, GPS tracking devices, and security video surveillance equipment. If you are going on a date, particularly with someone new, tell someone the details such as, name of person, where you are going, what time you expect to return, etc.