Sexual Violence, consent and our take on Stanford

Sexual Violence, consent and our take on Stanford

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Guilty of 3 counts of sexual assault yet only 6 months in county jail and probation – taking account the age (20) of the perpetrator, the lack of previous criminal convictions and the severe impact on his life led the judge to decide to his level of sentencing, causing outrage worldwide. The case of Brock Turner in Stanford (US) has led to worldwide discussions on sexual violence, the impact on the victim (and the perpetrator) and the issue of consent.

For those unaware of the case: 20 year old student Brock Turner was found guilty of 3 counts of sexual assault but, while facing a max. of 14 years in prison he got 6 months in county jail and probation, with the justification alleging to the fact that a longer sentence would have a “severe impact” on Turner, a champion swimmer. Brock’s father had called on the judge to grant probation, as a sentence would be a “steep price … for 20 minutes of action” as “his son’s life had been deeply altered forever”. He also referred his son’s actions as “non-violent” and related to “sexual promiscuity.“The victim found the courage to share her very detailed and graphic victim’s statement online which has raised substantial support for her case and resulted in outrage over the sentence – with an online petition reaching over 600,000 signatures, calling for the judge’s removal.

The leniency shown through the sentencing and the responses by Brock’s father show a dangerous  and worrying lack of understanding of the damage sexual violence can have on a person, with potentially lifelong consequences for both physical and mental health with further consequences for education, employment, family and social life. The reference to “20 minutes of action “ appears to imply that it was only during the 20 minutes that the victim may have suffered any damage and while able to highlight the lifelong impact on the perpetrator this does not seem to translate into any parallel impact on the victim. The substantial impact on the victim is clearly evident from her victim statement and are as expected based on evidence available from research on the topic. Its also clear that the concept of “informed consent” was not taken into consideration (“he thought I liked it because I rubbed his back)” – thankfully in this country CPS guidance states that if there is evidence that by reason of drink or drugs the victim was unaware of what was occurring and/or or incapable of giving valid consent (in this case the victim was unconscious due to intoxication) and the perpetrator cannot reasonably believe that consent was given, then someone can be charged with sexual assault.

Yes – the victim does not remember it happening to her as she was too intoxicated. This does not mitigate any of the harm this might have caused her and the mere fact that she doensn’t  remember might in fact it might exacerbate any harm caused?

Even if the victim migth have wanted to engage in anything sexual with the defendant, as the now infamous tea-cup clip shows –its fairly normal for someone to change their mind when asked about whether they want something and its good to check this before simply “giving” someone you think they wanted a while back, especially if they not be aware of what’s happening. Worryingly – what message does it send to women around the world?

Sexual assault is still an all too frequent occurrence in the UK: Figures from Rape Crisis UK show that 1 in 5 women aged 16 – 59 has experienced some form of sexual violence since the age of 16. Young people too are subjected to sexual harassment and violence, including worryingly in schools, leading to the government launching a parliamentary enquiry into the scale and impact of sexual harassment and sexual violence in schools based on evidence from pre-consultation work with over 300 young people shows sexting, online bullying and the normalisation of pornography are all issues for students and they want more support in dealing with them.

Causes of RapeLike Brock and his father, many people , young and old believe (or are made to believe), that the victim could have prevented this by dressing differently or not drinking as much – there are of course protective behaviours but this does not change the answer to the question who is at fault – as this could only be the perpetrator? If you leave your bag or car open, does that make it right for someone else to steal all its contents? You would still be convicted as a thief?

Already a key theme for Basis Yorkshire, in the coming months, Basis Training will be focusing more on this area of work, by working with young people on issues around consent, sexual harassment and violence (offline and online) and the impact of pornography, sex and relationships. We’ve also just re-launched our Sexual Violence training with some great feedback already from delegates who attended and we’ll be launching our Pornography and Young People’s training, using amongst others our latest Is it Normal Resource over the next few months.

Sexual Violence and Consent – our take on Stanford

News l and tagged , , l

Guilty of 3 counts of sexual assault yet only 6 months in county jail and probation – taking account the age (20) of the perpetrator, the lack of previous criminal convictions and the severe impact on his life led the judge to decide to his level of sentencing, causing outrage worldwide. The case of Brock Turner in Stanford (US) has led to worldwide discussions on sexual violence, the impact on the victim (and the perpetrator) and the issue of consent.

For those unaware of the case: 20 year old student Brock Turner was found guilty of 3 counts of sexual assault but, while facing a max. of 14 years in prison he got 6 months in county jail and probation, with the justification alleging to the fact that a longer sentence would have a “severe impact” on Turner, a champion swimmer. Brock’s father had called on the judge to grant probation as a sentence would be a “steep price … for 20 minutes of action” as “his son’s life had been deeply altered forever”. The victim found the courage to share her very detailed and graphic victim’s statement online which has raised substantial support for her case and resulted in outrage over the sentence – with an online petition reaching over 600,000 signatures, calling for the judge’s removal.

The leniency shown through the sentencing and the responses by Brock’s father show a dangerous lack of understanding of the damage sexual violence can have on a person, with potentially lifelong consequences for both physical and mental health with further consequences for education, employment, family and social life. The reference to “20 minutes of action “ appears to imply that it was only during the 20 minutes that the victim may have suffered any damage and while able to highlight the lifelong impact on the perpetrator this does not seem to translate into any parallel impact on the victim. The substantial impact on the victim is clearly evident from her victim statement and are as expected based on evidence available from research on the topic. Its also clear that the concept of “informed consent” was not taken into consideration (“he thought I liked it because I rubbed his back)” – thankfully in this country CPS guidance now states that if there is evidence that by reason of drink or drugs the victim was unaware of what was occurring and/or or incapable of giving valid consent (in this case the victim was unconscious due to intoxication) and the perpetrator cannot reasonably believe that consent was given, then someone can be charged with sexual assault.

Yes – the victim does not remember it happening to her as she was too intoxicated. This does not mitigate any of the harm this might have caused her and in fact it might exacerbate any harm caused? As the now infamous tea-cup clip shows –its fairly normal for someone to change their mind when asked about whether they want something and its good to check this before simply “giving” someone you think they wanted a while back, especially if they not be aware of what’s happening. Worryingly – what message does it send to women around the world?

Sexual assault is still an all too frequent occurrence in the UK: Figures from Rape Crisis UK show that 1 in 5 women aged 16 – 59 has experienced some form of sexual violence since the age of 16. Young people too are subjected to sexual harassment and violence, including worryingly in schools, leading to the government launching a parliamentary enquiry into the scale and impact of sexual harassment and sexual violence in schools based on evidence from pre-consultation work with over 300 young people shows sexting, online bullying and the normalisation of pornography are all issues for students and they want more support in dealing with them.

Like Brock and his father, many people , young anCauses of Raped old believe (or are made to believe) that the victim or that he/she could have prevented this by dressing differently or not drinking as much – there are of course protective behaviours but this does not change the answer to the question who is at fault – as this could only be the perpetrator? If you leave your bag or car open, does that make it right for someone else to steal all its contents?

Already a key theme for Basis Yorkshire, in the coming months, Basis Training will be focusing more on this area of work, by working with young people on issues around consent, sexual harassment and violence (offline and online) and the impact of pornography, sex and relationships. We’ve also just re-launched our Sexual Violence training with some great feedback already from delegates who attended and will be launching a Pornography and Young People’s training, using amongst others our latest Is it Normal Resource over the next few months.

Safer Internet Day – why we all have our part to play

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Isn’t it great to see a positive campaign on online safety – highlighting the potential as well as the risks and setting the scene on how if everyone plays their part we can make the most of it if we can mitigate the risks for young people (and adults!) – its such a force for good and a great source to make friendships, raise funds, help others, stay in touch and learn about the world and how to do things – there’s a YouTube tutorial on anything you can think of.

Basis Training does a lot of preventative workshops in school on online safety and in that guise we make pupils aware of the risks of being online – in the full knowledge that we can’t stop children and young people going online and nor should we try to. The risks are undeniably there: being bullied, being exposed to inappropriate sexualised content being groomed, or some with the most tragic consequences – in particular when online contact leads to contact or has other consequences in real life.

So what do we do about this? Stopping children and young people accessing the internet isn’t the solution either – although filters have their place for ensuring young children don’t access inappropriate content, such as highly sexualised content and/or extreme violence but these are not perfect and children are clever and curious about things – especially about things they are not meant to know about.

Children at a very young age are advanced users of tablets and smartphones. According to Ofcom, 34% of children aged between 5 and 15 now have their own tablet. This is topical with a team member at one of our supporters – SEO Agency Spike Digital, as their Digital Strategist (and father of 3) Duncan Colman explains: “We want our children to embrace technology in moderation and protect them from adult content, which is a message that takes time to convey to a 5-6 year old. We are taking the plunge and buying our kids Amazon Fire Kids Editions to prevent them from accessing things they could find really harmful. This includes YouTube content, browser content and social media access – the latter of which we’ll address when they are at that age!”

A lot of parents say they sign up as a friend on their child’s Facebook account or their email account as a safety measure which is positive in terms of recognising the risk and engaging in conversation although gives a false sense of security. Adjusting privacy settings is equally very important – although those that want to cause harm are usually extremely good at manipulating children and adults and finding ways to reach out to them – and its very easy to take conversations offline through other apps or other Facebook accounts where they are not accessible anymore – and more to the point – parents or teachers or other professionals can’t spend their time monitoring their internet activity all the time! Just as we don’t keep our children indoors or follow them around all the time, we can’t keep them offline either.

So- what then? Talk, Educate and Train!
Talk: to young people- as adults, parents, carers, teachers, social workers –  or as a young person to your friend – whether its about the risks of sharing pictures online, of meeting people in real life that you’ve only met online, who to go to when you are being bullied or whether its about understanding why you might be uncomfortable watching pornography and that it might affect your relationship.

Educate – There are some great educational resources out there already – including some created by the Safer Internet Day campaign, CEOP and many others including our own resource Is it Normal (engaging young people to talk about accessing pornography).

Train – Talking and educating doesn’t mean the risks will go away completely – even a teacher, parent or friend with the best, open, loving relationship with a young person may not be able to prevent them becoming a victim of online manipulation – however we can learn to spot the signs and know where to get help. As professionals we need to make sure that staff at every level have the best possible training and support to recognise the signs and provide professional support when a young person, parent or fellow professional raises concerns about a young person. So – lets keep talking, educating and training so that children and young people can see and use the internet for all its wonderful potential and all play our part in keeping it safe.

Dec News- New dates, discounts & locations for CSE Training

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Our December newsletter is out with info on new dates,  discounts and locations for our latest CSE Training Courses, new courses coming up and our resources.

Our next Level 2 course (CSE Victims Voice Jan 21st) is now at a 20% discount!

Our Level 3 Supporting CSE Victims in Court which will be in London! Further info and to book please see CSE Training Open Courses on our website or contact us. 

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New CSE Level 3 Open Training Course: Supporting Child Sexual Exploitation Victims in Court

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This course shares the experiences of this to date and what lessons can be learned from these to get it right for children? Our specialist trainer Adele Gladman, with frontline experience of supporting victims through such processes has designed a high quality course to inform those attending of common poor experiences that young people have, how to avoid them, and how to minimise what can be a traumatic experience for many young people. It will look at the roles of individual services, and best practice within a multi agency framework. The course is Level 3 CPD certified. Book here now!