STATEMENT: on CWS’ Youth Violence Prevention Education Program

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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Friday, March 03, 2017
CONTACT: Melissa Erlbaum, (503) 557-5810, melissae@cwsor.org

Statement of Melissa Erlbaum, Executive Director at Clackamas Women’s Services, on CWS’ Youth
Violence Prevention Education Program

“We are deeply concerned by the coverage and characterization of our Youth Violence Prevention Education Program during a recent news report. CWS agrees that the idea that teens are exposed to pornography and sexual assault can be distressing and it can be hard to accept that the average age of exposure is age 11. That is why we provide lessons to help students change attitudes about sexual assault, shift blame away from victims and support friends who may experience abuse.

“It is crucial that we change attitudes in our society that promote dating and sexual violence. According to the 2015 Healthy Teen Survey conducted by the Oregon Healthy Authority, 13% of Clackamas County 8th graders identified as having given in to “sexual activity when they didn’t want to because of pressure,” and 5.8% identify as having been “physically forced to have sexual intercourse when they didn’t want to”—in both cases higher than the state average (11.3% and 5.7% respectively).

“Unfortunately, advertising and the entertainment industry have made it normal to sexualize young women, creating a culture in which sexual violence is tolerated. We teach that the pornography industry can promote sexual violence and that this is harmful to young people as they are developing their relationships.

“Using a media literacy approach the CWS’ Youth Violence Prevention and Education Program illustrates how the violent images in pornography are often reflected in common, socially acceptable advertising. It is also crucial for students, teachers, and parents to understand that the pornography industry is interconnected with human sex trafficking.

“We must also correct some inaccuracies portrayed in the news report. The sexual assault discussion and activity surrounding a story of Mike and Donna engages students to apply their knowledge of consent and boundary setting in an age appropriate scenario. Pornographic images are not used in our presentation.

“It is crucial to remember that domestic and sexual violence happen in every community and that we must all make a commitment to intervene when we know it is happening. Clackamas Women’s Services offers comprehensive, sensitive solutions for adults and children impacted by domestic and sexual violence.”

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