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A guest column from Wednesday's paper got me thinking about the intricacies involved in responding to sexual assault. The acknowledgement of sexual violence as a social problem has existed for decades, however, sexual violence has not been seen as a major political problem in the public sphere, from an impacted community perspective, until relatively late in U.S. history.

What research tells us is that the age of traditional high school and college students, ages 16-24, are at the highest risk for sexual assault. High schools and colleges absolutely have a lot of work to do to reduce the risk of 1 in 4 or 5 women being sexually assaulted during their college career. Influential institutional decision makers, i.e. the dean of students, judicial affairs members, and campus law enforcement must prioritize a survivor-focused response to sexual assault, and they must hold perpetrators of violence accountable.

When the response is lacking, for example: a survivor is not encouraged to report, or a perpetrator is not investigated and/or held accountable, the implicit message that is being communicated is that sexual assault isn't a problem and that the crime is seen as an individual (the survivor) behaving in a disorderly way (because she was alone, with a guy, drinking, dressed provocatively, the list goes on). High schools and colleges are responsible for providing safe spaces free from sexual assault. The changes to the ways society views and responds to sexual assault will change for the better if influential institutional decision makers start the process and create the momentum. This change in culture takes a community-wide response.

Meg Quigley

Re: Unsticking America

The reason that the income gap is getting larger has everything to do with the fact that we now have roughly 1/2 of the country receiving some form of government assistance. More and more people becoming dependent on the nanny state will only add to the disparity. We need to reduce the number by incenting people to work instead of receiving a living assistance program.

Dave Thoensen

This is totally backwards. The main reason for the increases in the need for government assistance is the loss of jobs since 2007 including a lot of young people having a tough time finding work, and the rape of the economy by the banks. Increase taxes on the upper end, end the sequester, and get over the ACA issues, and things like income inequality will lessen.

Terry Murphy

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