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10 April 2015

Is there a need to provide personal safety training for young women? You be the judge!

“Rape is an American shame. Our society needs to see that and attend to it not hide it or hush it up. As long as rape is deemed unspeakable – and is therefore not fully and honestly spoken of ­the public outrage will be muted as well.”

Geneva Overholser, Des Moines Register Editor, 1989

I am not sure if this statement is strong enough. My concern about violence against women goes back over thirty years ago. While dating has more than enough victims, women are also facing other violence issues. For whatever reason, society and the educational community have done a poor job of training women early enough in their lives to prevent many of these problems.

In 1980, while attending her freshman year of col­lege, a former high school student of mine was mur­dered during a robbery. I began an exhaustive search which spanned several years to identify the problem and see what solutions were being offered. While researching the subject, I came across an alarming trend in assaults on women and dating vio­lence and I was amazed to see the problem extended far beyond the boundaries of the United States. Even more frightening was the failure on the part of most people, males and females alike, to recognize both the seriousness and scope of the problem.

Did you know that by the time young women reach their freshman year in college, 15%-25% had been raped or sexually assaulted? The 2003 study “Monitoring the Future” by the National Academy of the Sciences, Harvard School of Public Health, suggest that 700,000 women are sexually assaulted annually on college campuses. A later study by The American Psychological Association reported that girls between the ages of 15 and 24 years old will have a 15-25 percent chance of being the victim of a rape or sexual assault. At about the same time, the National Institute of Justice and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released their study and the results were equally disturbing. With estimates of well over 1 million rapes a year, they suggested that, “It is imperative that violence against women be treated as … a major public health concern.” Also, that “Rape should be viewed as a crime committed primarily against youth.”

According to Safety N.E.T. Kids, there are 60 mil­lion adults who were sexually abused when they were children. Then there are the untold thousands of sexual predators who target teens via the Inter­net.

It might be because of better reporting but each year the statistics continue to get worse. Yet most in authority in schools or colleges do little to provide quality training. There is no excuse for this. Shame on us! Society has a moral responsibility to protect the young. Is it not time to educate young women and give them a fighting chance?

About the Author: Professor Arthur Cohen (a.k.a. “The Streetwise Professor’) is a retired educator, author, speaker and personal safety expert. He has written extensively on school and personal safety issues. You may reach him at