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Why parents need to talk to their kids about campus sex assault

As young people head off to their freshman year of college here in Maryland and across the country, many parents are taking the time to discuss the widely-reported problem of sexual assault on campus. Whether you're the parents of a daughter or son, it's essential to talk with them and impart your own expectations, even if college officials will be addressing these issues with incoming students at orientation seminars.

Alcohol, drug use and peer pressure can be a toxic blend for young people on their own for the first time. Parents of young women are rightfully concerned about preventing their daughters from becoming the victims of sexual assault. However, parents of young men are also having conversations with their sons to help them avoid becoming accused of sexual assault or accessory to someone else's illegal actions.

One mother says she has told her son that it doesn't matter what a girl is wearing, whether she's drunk or what she and other young men may have done. She says she knows that it's common for guys to hear that "she already had sex with one of the guys [and] therefore it's okay if everybody does." She's told her son "to treat every single woman you encounter like that's your mom, your sister."

The message seems to have sunk in. The 17-year-old says, "I'll always try to keep a clear head, make the right decisions, and not be afraid to help someone around me, whether or not it has anything to do with me."

The mother of another young person headed to college says, "If you can't have a conversation with someone that you're about to have sex with, that is an indication that you should not be intimate physically."

While conversations about sex between parents and teens can be awkward, even when those teens are old enough to be entering college, they can prevent serious legal consequences. While it's normal for parents to want to protect their daughters, they also need to help their sons avoid behavior that can get them charged with sexual assault. If they do end up facing such charges, it's essential to seek experienced legal guidance to help protect their future.

Source: Youth Radio, "Before They Go: Parents and Kids Talk Campus Sexual Assault," Sayre Quevedo, accessed Aug. 15, 2017

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