Local school campaign uses 'positive peer pressure' to help prevent sex assault

Local school campaign uses 'positive peer pressure' to help prevent sex assault (KOMO News)

BURIEN, Wash. --A local school district is taking a new approach to stopping sexual assault among students. They're using peer pressure with a twist, in what's called a social norms campaign.

"We surveyed our students, middle and high school students, on their beliefs around sexual consent," explains Nikki Fogerty, Community Partner Specialist with the Highline School District.

They took the answers and turned them into a campaign, designed to get kids talking.

Eunice Santiago is a senior at New Start High School. She's part of a teen council working on the campaign. "I hope it's easier to just normalize and talk about it," she said. "Because it is something we should be talking about, especially now."

They found 96 percent of high school students in the district believe teens who hooked up once still need to ask before hooking up again. And 98 percent believe they should talk about what they're comfortable with.

"95 percent and above of all students believe that it's really important that you need to get permission from students, and so we then are using those statistics to show them that hey, we really hold these values high and we need to continue," Fogerty said.

The survey results are now on posters in middle and high schools around the district.

Other districts in the state and around the country have expressed interest in creating similar campaigns.

Planned Parenthood also partners with the district, helping to design peer-led sex education classes.

"If people are just talking about consent more and the importance of it, that could be so helpful," said Mollie Overby of Planned Parenthood. "Because if you're nervous and scared to talk about something, you're probably not going to talk about it."

And talking about it could be a simple first step to stopping sexual assault.

The Highline district hopes to expand the social norms campaign into elementary schools. The message at that age level would focus on getting permission when it comes to hugging or other types of touching.

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