Now that we’re beginning to leave the dog days of August it’s time to think ahead. And for many that’s school for their children, or, college/trade school for young adults. Given this summer’s heat in the United States and Europe, it seems like the entire summer consisted of “dog days.” Hot, hot, hot!

So, with school upon us, or just a crisp, new Fall ahead, it’s time to think about being current on news about sex and sex-education resources for students, and safety information for college students.

If you are a student in higher education or if you have kids in school, we hope that comprehensive sex education is provided. If you have kids in school, we hope they have comprehensive sexuality education programs that provide them with the necessary, age-appropriate, information to prepare them to understand sexuality and make healthy decisions. Why “comprehensive sexuality education” rather than “Abstinence Only Education”? Research has shown that teens getting comprehensive sexuality-ed while in school are less likely to get pregnant and are much more aware of birth control methods along with the age-appropriate facts of sexuality. If you are not sure what type of sex education your school system offers, check with your school and know for sure. If you want to learn more about comprehensive sexuality education, checks websites for SIECUS or Planned Parenthood. And, of course, we shouldn’t forget that parents should also play an important role with young adults in sexuality education at home, providing age-appropriate information that can be complemented by school-based information. Some parents have also found that the SmartSex app can be a part an important source of interaction with their students – with supervision.

When it comes to students returning to college, it’s important they stay on top of the latest information on sexuality and relationships. And, it’s no surprise that safety on campus is a big concern. The last few years, sexual assault, and the response of school administrations to it, has become a big problem on campuses nationwide. It’s not just about statistics and numbers—it’s about real people who may be profoundly hurt for the rest of their lives after being sexually assaulted or accused of assaulting. Too many schools have responded to accusations of assault with indifference or ineffective disciplinary actions, creating further suffering for the victim and perpetrator.

For students to be safer and smart, they need to know the meaning of sexual consent. Sexual consent means agreeing that both people want to have sex. Consent to have sex requires that both parties are: conscious, free to act, and can communicate their intent. The campus mantra: NO means NO is now being replaced by YES means YES. Colleges across the country are following California’s lead in modeling their policies. Communication requires listening and speaking. Assumptions are no longer acceptable. Silence does not necessarily mean ‘yes’. Having had sex before doesn’t mean that one can assume that it’s okay this time. A lack of physical resistance does not mean consent. And at any moment during intimacy, someone has the right to change his/her mind, and that decision must be respected. Professor Susan Sered, a sex assault expert, noted that this policy shifts women from victims “to women as agents who have the positive right to engage or refrain from engaging in sexual relations when and with whom and under circumstances of their choosing.”
Sexual assault can happen anywhere. And bystanders can
make a big difference. You could be at a wild party with friends
or chilling with a small group, when signs of sexual tension/ coercion and disrespect occur. Each of us has a duty to stand up in a way that intervenes and stops sexual assault. It could be as simple as distracting a couple as they walk towards a bedroom. For men, this is especially important advice. Alan Berkowitz, noted psychologist and male sexuality expert says “Bystander intervention is an important element in eliminating sexual assault, and men have an important role to play. Research shows that men respect other men who intervene in sexual assault.”
It’s good to see that many schools are now facing up to these concerns and past failures with new programs. These include: workshops on healthy relationships, developing the skills to establish consent and positive bystander intervention; Hot lines to report incidents; Dorm programs to encourage positive norms and healthy sexuality; Social marketing campaigns to speak against sexual violence; “Hot-spot” mapping to ID and monitor unsafe areas on campus; Student involvement in strengthening and enforcing assault policies; and community efforts to reduce excessive alcohol use.
We encourage parents and students to support and encourage college campuses on these issues. And for students, you should practice establishing sexual consent. Be sure and know your campus policies and make sure that they work. Support your Hot Lines and Counseling services and, maybe, become a peer educator.
And, don’t be a passive bystander – speak up when you see a student being harassed or threatened.

And, of course, we encourage college students to download and use the SmartSex app. We have created the app to be an ideal sex advisor for students about all types of sex questions, sexual health, relationships, and personal protection. If you’re a student, or the parents of students, we encourage you to use the SmartSex app – and learn more to be sex smart.

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