The student news site of Owatonna High School.

Magnet

The student news site of Owatonna High School.

Magnet

The student news site of Owatonna High School.

Magnet

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Chloe Gfrerer is a sophomore at OHS. It is her first year in Magnet. She decided to join to improve her journalism skills because she has an interest in journalism. She also got told that it is a great...

Amanda Clubb is a junior at OHS this year. This is her second year on the Magnet staff. Clubb is involved in student council, DECA, SHOC, band, Students for Life, tennis and track. Outside of school, Clubb...

Lexie Klecker is a junior at Owatonna High School. This is her first year on OHS Magnet. Klecker joined Magnet to improve her writing skills and get more involved at OHS. She is involved in Basketball,...

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Ava Flemke is a senior at Owatonna High School and this is her second year in Magnet. Flemke has been a dancer at Just For Kix for 13 years. This is Flemke’s second year doing Big Brothers Big Sisters...

Anna Mollenhauer is a junior at OHS. This is her first year in Magnet. Mollenhauer is involved in girls hockey, soccer and golf. She is also involved in DECA, Young Life and 4-H. Outside of school Mollenhauer...

Victoria Contreras is a senior at OHS this year. This is her first year joining Magnet. Contreras joined Magnet because she is interested in bettering her writing and social media skills. She hopes that...

The importance of Sexual Assault Awareness Month

Info-graphic+of+sexual+assault+awareness+month+with+number+for+the+national+hotline.+
Designed by Andres Contreras
Info-graphic of sexual assault awareness month with number for the national hotline.

In April of  2001,  Sexual Assault Awareness Month was declared by “The Pennsylvania Coalition Against Rape and the National Sexual Violence Resource Center.”

When speaking on the topic of sexual assault, it is necessary to acknowledge the fact that anyone—no matter their age, gender, race or sexuality—can be sexually assaulted. This rejects the idea that only one specific demographic of people can be sexually assaulted, a stigma is formed around sexual assault and other victims may not feel validated. 

Info-graphic about sexual assault statistics and information, including men, women and children. (Designed by Andres Contreras)

With the influence of social media, Sexual Assault Awareness Month has been pivotal in recognizing victims who may still be healing. SAAM is as important as it is because many victims have felt comfortable reaching out for help and getting justice against their attackers. 

Some may feel too shy to speak about their incident, which is why this month has shed light on the sore and uncomfortable subject that is sexual violence. However, this month has also broken down many barriers and opened up important conversations about the importance of consent and respect. 

The organization, No Means No, has made a community whose number one goal is to end sexual violence. According to No Means No, one in three women experience sexual violence in their lifetime, nearly half of all sexual assaults are against girls age 15 and younger. When reading this, it is significant to note that these are not just statistics these are real-life people who went through a traumatic experience. Because of No Means No, there has been a 47% decrease in the incidents of rape, 42% of girls used skills learned in the program to stop sexual assault the year after training, 79% success rate of boys who intervened to prevent an assault and a 46% decrease in pregnancy-related school dropouts. 

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, one in three men has experienced sexual violence involving physical contact during his lifetime. Nearly eight in 10 male rape survivors reported that they were made to penetrate someone before age 25 and about four in 10 were first made to penetrate as a minor. Again, it is important to realize that sexual assault is not limited to anyone and it can happen to anybody. 

Consent and respect are vital boundaries that must be honored. The National Domestic Violence Hotline said, “Consent is an ongoing mutual agreement between partners about what they do or don’t want to experience. When considering whether acts in your relationship are consensual, keep in mind that consent isn’t as simple as “no means no” or “yes means yes.” Consent is a safe, open, and ongoing conversation about the activities you and your partner are comfortable with and actively want to experience together.” Even if the partner said yes and they later changed their mind—No Means No. When having relations with another person, it is vital to look for signs that may not be spoken. Even if the person has not officially said no, that does not mean they have not given you many signs asking you to stop. It is important to remember that—No Means No—even if not verbally said. 

OHS OFFERS ‘WOMEN’S HEALTH ISSUES’ COURSE

At OHS, young men and women, in eleventh or twelfth grade, can take the ‘Women’s Health Issues’ class. This class is taught by Ms. Michaela Kruger; in the class, the students are taught skills and information about the female body and the health needs of women, they are also taught the importance of physical, mental and emotional health. She said, “[Women’s Health Issues] provides a space for students to talk about issues that sometimes can be uncomfortable to discuss elsewhere. Their vulnerability with heavy topics always brings me so much pride because of the trust and respect we all develop for each other through the class.” 

Because of this class, I feel like I have a safe place to go to, I realized that my feelings are valid and that I am not the only girl feeling this way. This realization may not have happened without the class.”

— Jaedynn Tjon

Women’s Health Issues has impacted many young adult’s life.  Senior Jeadynn Tjon said, “Because of this class, I feel like I have a safe place to go to, I realized that my feelings are valid and that I am not the only girl feeling this way. This realization may not have happened without the class.”

Throughout the length of the course, many serious topics are covered such as the female reproductive system, gynecological exams, sexual assault, dating violence, stress and depression, breast and reproductive system cancers, nutrition and exercise for women, issues of aging in women, heart disease in women, balancing work and family and self-defense/safety. Ms. Kruger said, “I think the most important thing that we learn in the class is how to listen to our intuition… The students realize how powerful our intuition is, and why modern society has made it challenging for us to trust it.” Students who take and finish the class will leave with a broader understanding of women as a whole. 

Senior Olivia Flores took the class and was blown away by the class. She believed that it was just as educational as it was fun. She said, “My biggest takeaway [from taking the class] was knowing when to get out of a toxic relationship. Finding out the little details and knowing when to notice the red flags of the relationship is what this class taught me.” 

[Women’s Health Issues] provides a space for students to talk about issues that sometimes can be uncomfortable to discuss elsewhere. Their vulnerability with heavy topics always brings me so much pride because of the trust and respect we all develop for each other through the class.”

— Michaela Kruger

Currently, the class is open for all to take, even though it is mostly females who sign up for the class. Flores said, “I believe this class was super important, it is a class that a lot of people should be taking—especially guys. Overall, it is just an excellent source of information to broaden your mind on what women go through.” 

At the end of class, students go through a week-long self-defense course. The young women are taught by Dr. Thomas Meagher; Meagher has a PhD in Science and Education and an educational doctorate, which helps him to be able to teach what he has learned. 

He spends the week going over specific self-defense techniques. The students are taught how to protect themselves, specifically how to properly punch and kick an attacker, by using a form of karate. Through hands-on participation and partner work, students are taught skills that can aid in an attack.

Dr. Meagher teaches his students that there are more ways and possibilities of self-defense, even though a lot of self-defense is focused on punching and kicking he wants students informed of the fact that there are many other options to protect themselves, throughout the course.

I believe it is unfortunate that we have this [Sexual Assault Awareness month] for one, but I also think it is important that we have it because it brings attention to it.”

— Dr. Thomas Meagher

When talking about sexual assault it is important to see both people, the abuser and the victim. Dr. Meagher said, “First, we have to bring awareness and avoidance while asserting our boundaries. If we do so, we won’t have to be physically violent. It is unfortunate in our society that we have to think about it only as a women’s issue and we have to do some significant education with the perpetrators and how to change their behavior. We should not have to be only teaching girls self-defense, we should also be teaching boys, not only self-defense but also self-awareness and control. I think it is good that we talk about it, but I wish we could be at a point where we don’t have to.”

Throughout the class, the students are taught about sexual assault awareness month and its importance. Dr. Meagher said, “I believe it is unfortunate that we have this [Sexual Assault Awareness month] for one, but I also think it is important that we have it because it brings attention to it. It is sad to me that in our society we have to worry about people’s violence. If we take the time to deal with how to treat violence and then analyze how to do this safely and securely.”

HELP IS AVAILABLE—YOU ARE NOT ALONE

The most important information to know is that—no one is alone. There are many anonymous resources available to anyone who is struggling with any case of abuse or sexual assault. 

For more information about what to do if an individual is struggling with sexual assault visit RAINN.

Call 1-800-656-4673, for the national sexual assault hotline which is available 24 hours a day. 

Donations can be made to No Means No which can help end sexual violence here

If an individual is being sexually assaulted the most important thing to do is ask for help. Again, remember—you are not alone—help is available.

About the Contributor
Andres Contreras
Andres Contreras is a senior at OHS this year. This is his second year in Magnet, this year he will take the role of editor and writer. Contreras is involved in Younglife and Wyldlife outside of school. In school he is involved in Key Club, DIG, Thriving Minds, and Link Crew; through Best Buddies and Link Crew, he has the leadership roles of secretary and commissioner. When he is not at school, you can find Contreras having fun with his friends and family, shopping, or binge-watching a new TV show. Contreras plans to attend a four-year university in which he will major in political science and minor in Spanish. He is extremely excited about his senior year and final year in Magnet.