Showing posts from December, 2015

Defining Sexual Consent on College Campuses – A Need for Change

If you ask 100 college students what the definition of sexual consent is, you may get 100 different answers.  Some may tell you that it is the absence of a verbal “no”.  Some may say that they “read between the lines” during vague conversations related to the topic and that if they don’t get a strong “No”, they move forcefully ahead.  And yet others say they interpret body language and nonverbal indicators to make their sexual decisions.  Any way you look at it, sexual consent seems to be very difficult for students to define and can be as confusing as an elaborate game of charades.  There should not be any doubt in the mind of an individual who wishes to engage in sexual activity that the other person does or does not want to have sex.  It’s not a guessing game.  Yet students will tell you they find the definition of sexual consent to be much like finding Bigfoot, it can be elusive and unexplained.
The hugely popular “No means No” campaign tried to clarify things and take the guess …

The Impact of Language

I recently watched this video called, “48 Things Women Hear in a Lifetime (That Men Just Don’t).” 
Now, I can agree that some of these things men do hear, or maybe a modified version. The biggest problem with these statements is what they teach people, the hidden message.
Some of the statements were as follows: -He picks on you because he likes you. -Don’t wear that to school, you’ll distract the boys. -What were you wearing that night?
There were many others, obviously, but these are a few that I really see as harmful. They are subtle statements and at the surface do not seem that bad – they might even seem like compliments. Again I’ll agree that modifying them to say to a boy or a man would not be acceptable either; however, I do think that women hear these types of statements more often.
“He picks on you because he likes you.” From a very young age, we teach our children that it’s okay that a person is hurting your feelings (mental harm) or pinching you (physical harm) because …

Teens and Media

We live in a culture that is saturated with media—music, television, video games, books, magazines, social media. All of it is available instantaneously on palm-sized machines without regard to our physical locations. Numerous research studies have been conducted and replicated throughout recent years pertaining to the effects of media on our children and adolescents. These studies have found that media profoundly impacts attitudes, beliefs, and actions—typically in a negative manner.  What are the predominant lessons being taught? Violence is acceptable. Females are objects. Profanity and verbal put-downs are the norm. Our bodies (both male and female) aren’t good enough unless they conform to an unrealistic set of parameters that define “perfection.”
Some might say that the way to combat the negative messages is to just turn it off or to limit the access. While these strategies sound like common sense, they are extremely difficult to enforce given how media-saturated our society i…

Becoming a Steward of Children

Child sexual abuse wreaks havoc upon kids.A child’s developing body is not built for abuse, especially sexual abuse.Sexual abuse not only harms their little bodies, but can also leave ongoing social and emotional scars upon the boy or girl.In some cases, the child suffers developmentally and may never experience the joys of a healthy sexual relationship or becoming a parent as an adult.They can grow up feeling helpless, humiliated, and develop a deep mistrust of others.For others, childhood sexual assault can lead to becoming prey to other predators because of their psychologically weakened state.
Kids who are sexually violated by adults and older kids often regress.  They start to suck their thumbs and wet the bed, have bad dreams, tummy aches, and problems at school.  They may withdraw from others and stop getting along with other children. 
Many survivors of childhood sexual abuse turn to drugs, alcohol, promiscuity, and other addictive behaviors.  They are prone to depression, anxie…

Strangulation and HB 1581

Last year there were 97 reported homicides in Pennsylvania as a result of domestic violence. Of those 97, six were murdered by way of strangulation.  Strangulation is, unfortunately, an all too common occurrence in intimate partner relationships in which there is violence; however, it can be difficult to prove. Very often, the victim shows no obvious physical signs immediately following an attack.  Police or EMTs may respond to a domestic violence call in which strangulation occurred, yet find the victim conscious and coherent, making it almost impossible to realize that the victim was just seconds from death prior to their arrival. Currently, an abuser can be charged with aggravated assault if he/she is arrested for strangulation, but, because it is a difficult crime to prove, the charge is frequently reduced to a misdemeanor or summary offense, which doesn’t accurately reflect the severity of the crime.  Pennsylvania House Bill 1581 aims to change that.
The proposed legislation of HB…

#RethinkHIV on World AIDS Day

December 1st is World AIDS Day.  This year’s World AIDS Day campaign, determined by the United Kingdom’s National AIDS Trust, is #RethinkHIV.  Their goal is to dispel some of the commonly held beliefs about HIV contraction and people living with HIV that are false. 
Recently, when actor Charlie Sheen disclosed his positive HIV status, there were many questions from his fellow actors, namely Jenny McCarthy, about their exposure to HIV.  This has been a great opportunity for those in the HIV/AIDS educational community to remind people that HIV is NOT spread by kissing, touching or licking. 

Another common misconception is that all intravenous drug users have contracted HIV.  This is also not true.  I found this statistic especially surprising.  The campaign has many suggested Twitter and Facebook posts to participate in World AIDS Day.  One of the suggested posts from the campaign is “There are only three ways to get HIV-unprotected sex (95%), sharing needles, and mother-to-child transm…