Consent education, bystander training key in prevention of sexual violence

by | Apr 12, 2019 | News

Madison Raye, News Reporter

More than 900 Humber students reported they experienced non-consensual sex last year, according to a recent survey of more than 163,000 post-secondary students in Ontario.

The survey, conducted between Feb. 16 and April 2, 2018, showed of the 5,426 Humber students who voluntarily responded to it, that 17 per cent reported experiencing non-consensual sex. 

Another 23.6 per cent, or 1,280 people, reported they experienced a stalking experience, according to the survey by the Student Voices on Sexual Violence. The survey also showed more than half, or 51.5 per cent, believe they experienced a stalking situation.

The data was released regarding sexual violence and sexual harassment within post-secondary schools to the public last month. It covers several areas of harassment and violence like any unwanted behaviors, sexual violence, harassment, knowledge of consent and much more.

The survey displays the breakdown of each section showing the percentages based on sectors which would consist of colleges, universities and Private career colleges. The survey then shows every school based on that particular sector.

The survey was sent out to students last year and participation was optional. The survey reported on the answers provided by 163,777 students, or 21.9 per cent, of the 746,264 students in colleges, universities and private career colleges who  surveys. 

Humber had the highest response rate for all sections of the survey out of all colleges in Ontario.

Suze Morrison, NDP Toronto Centre MPP and opposition critic on women’s issues, said she reviewed the survey and believes the best way to prevent sexual violence and sexual harassment on campus is to have a better education system.

“I am concerned of the government’s response to the report, a few million dollars for every academic institution across the province for things like cameras on campus,” she said. “It falls short of what students and survivors on campus really need.”

The province recently doubled the funding from $3 million to $6 million for on-campus security equipment, including lights, cameras and campus walks.

Morrison said the education system should focus heavily on sex-education and consent so high-school students preparing to attend post-secondary schools will be knowledgeable and aware of the matter.

Jennifer Flood, the coordinator for Sexual Violence Prevention and Education at Humber College North campus, said strengthening consent culture is a good way to prevent sexual violence and harassment on campus.

“We have a program called Bringing in the Bystander, which is a two-hour workshop that provides you with prevention skills, and it really provides the outline of what sexual violence really is,” Flood said.

The survey reported 68.2 per cent of the 5,395 Humber students who answered questions about being a bystander said they witnessed sexual violence or potential dangerous behaviour. 

Flood said they are in the works of building upon the program as they are working with several institutions and community agencies.

Ariel Berkeley, a Senior Consent Peer educator, said the survey’s results about the perception of consent reflects what students are being taught about consent.

She said the statements within the report provides evidence of students’ perceptions of what consent is and the importance of preventative education.

Both Berkeley and Flood agree Humber students are well educated on consent but say there is always room of improvement.