It is now back-to-school season for families throughout Maryland, and students from kindergarten through college are turning their focus towards returning to school. As we mark this season, it is important that we continue to address sexual violence affecting students of all ages.
College sexual assault remains a top priority for MCASA, as our College Policy Project continues to work towards improving collaboration and resource availability for college students throughout Maryland. Stopping college sexual violence requires strong and appropriate prevention efforts. In this vein, two features this quarter are focused on this issue of preventing sexual violence at colleges. Our Prevention Corner feature unpacks the results of two major studies that were released recently and examines the implications for preventionists seeking to engage in evidence-based practice. Looking at the other end of the spectrum, this quarter’s Safety Sync feature focuses on misguided smartphone apps. These apps present themselves as prevention tools, but are likely to do more harm than good. Appropriate response mechanisms to sexual response is also a critical issue for colleges–and appropriate response mechanisms require clear definitions. Defining What Happened examines the importance of clearly articulated definitions in college sexual misconduct policies.
It is essential that these back-to-school conversations be as expansive as possible. To this end, our underserved populations feature focuses on a group who are often forgotten: children and students with disabilities. People with disabilities, including intellectual disabilities, are particularly vulnerable to sexual abuse. As we think about the impact of sexual violence on students of all ages, it is important to consider ability as an additional dimension adding richness and accessibility to our prevention and response efforts.
School is not yet in session for Maryland’s students, but sexual violence does not take a summer vacation. Whether in our communities or across our borders, sexual violence is an ongoing crisis. We highlight some of these ongoing issues in this quarter’s Frontline as well. The tireless year-round work of the staff at the Dove Center of Garrett County is profiled in this quarter’s Program Spotlight feature. Our Art as Activism feature explores how survivors are increasingly using collaborative art projects to promote both healing and recognition of their experiences. Important updates regarding human trafficking–including the dynamics of trafficking in Maryland and important legislation passed in the last session–is outlined in Human Trafficking in Maryland: The State of the State.
Finally, we outline key points regarding a major policy issue–the admissibility of past bad acts in sexual assault cases. This issue remains at the forefront of MCASA’s concerns for the coming year, as change is critical for survivors throughout the state.
We urge you to consider joining or donating to MCASA to help us continue our advocacy, policy, and programs work. Your assistance is vital as we fight to create a state that is safe for all. Please continue to join us in our work to end sexual violence.
Lisae C. Jordan, Esq.
Executive Director & Counsel
Maryland Coalition Against Sexual Assault