From the time a teen arrives for their first days of college, until Thanksgiving Break is the period with the highest risk of sexual victimization, often referred to as the Red Zone. The new freedoms that come with being away from home, including having increased access to alcohol, can be a volatile mix. In fact, 90% of college sexual assaults involve alcohol use by either the perpetrator of the victim. With many families getting ready to send a child off to college for the first time, the Prevention Council, and Wellspring have produced a new video dealing with the issues of alcohol, sex, and consent. The video is part of the Prevention Council’s programming for parents dealing with a range of issues.
Wellspring executive director Maggie Fronk said, “Parents want to keep their kids safe. It is hard to know what to talk about, and how to talk about it. This video helps parents talk to their boys and girls about alcohol, about sex, and about consent to help them make healthy decisions when they head off to college.”
She added, “Consent is an important topic for all children because of the role of affirmative consent in preventing sexual assault; it is the responsibility of a person initiating a sexual act to obtain consent, regardless of gender, as well as the effects of drugs and alcohol on consent.”
Consent is permission for something to happen or agreement to do something. When sex is consensual, it means everyone involved has agreed to what they are doing and has given their permission. Non-consensual sex, or sex without someone’s agreement or permission, is sexual assault.
The video is part of the continuing work of Wellspring to prevent crises before they arise by educating the community about relationship and sexual abuse. The organization offers a wide range of prevention and education programs at no cost to schools and community organizations in our county. In 2015, Wellspring prevention educators spoke to more than 6,500 Saratoga County youth and adolescents. The program staff focus on helping young people use the information about issues such as: consent, creating social change, how to intervene, and the connection between alcohol and sexual victimization, to enhance their critical thinking skills and increase their personal safety.
Some important things to know about consent:
• Drugs and alcohol blur consent. Drugs and alcohol impact decision making. When drugs and alcohol are involved, clear consent cannot be obtained. In many states, an intoxicated person cannot legally give consent.
• Consent needs to be clear. Consent is more than not hearing the word “no.” A partner saying nothing is not the same as a partner saying “yes.” Don’t rely on body language, past sexual interactions or any other non-verbal cues. Never assume you have consent. Always be sure you have consent.
• Consent can be fun. Consent does not have to be something that “ruins the mood.” In fact, clear and enthusiastic consent can actually enhance sexual interactions. Not only does it allow one to know that their partner is comfortable with the interaction, it lets both partners clearly express what they want.
• Consent is specific. Just because someone consents to one set of actions and activities does not mean consent has been given to any other sexual act. Similarly, if a partner has given consent in the past to sexual activity this does not apply to current or future interactions. Consent can be initially given and later withdrawn.
ABOUT WELLSPRING: At Wellspring, our mission is to support survivors and engage our community to end relationship and sexual abuse. Each year, our crisis intervention and survivor services support more than 1,000 clients—providing safe housing to adults and children either fleeing or homeless because of domestic violence, as well as comprehensive support in the form of counseling, legal advocacy, and case management. While helping victims in need is a major focus of the Agency’s mission, we know that by increasing awareness we can end intimate partner violence. Wellspring staff provides prevention and education programs to school-aged youth, as well as training and education programs for parents, faith based congregations, and professional organizations.
ABOUT THE PREVNTION COUNCIL: The Alcohol and Substance Abuse Prevention Council of Saratoga County, Inc, is a nonprofit, community-based organization. Our mission is to provide education, information and referral services on the subjects of alcohol, tobacco, other drug and violence prevention to individuals and local communities, thereby enhancing the quality of life for all citizens by diminishing the adverse effects of substance abuse and violence.