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Sex educator wants school rape incidents publicized

Colleges and military bases should overcome fears about besmirching their public image and publicize rape cases as a way of curtailing sexual assaults, a sex educator said.

Taking his rape-awareness message to administrators and instructors at local schools and the Orlando Naval Training Center, Jay Friedman said hiding or playing down assaults is a disservice to students and school communities.

"They have a responsibility to publicize it," said Friedman, director for Planned Parenthood of Northern New England, a private consulting service based in Burlington, Vt.

A recent study found that one of every six female students is a victim of rape or attempted rape but that 90 percent of them never report the incidents.

Friedman spoke to about 150 instructors and staff from the Navy, the University of Central Florida, Rollins College, Valencia Community College and Seminole Community College.

His talk at Orlando's recruit-training base was part of a "rape awareness week" sponsored by those institutions, which are conducting seminars and discussions at their campuses.

The goal of the series is to expand educational programs and establish training for prevention and assistance to victims.

Friedman, who primarily works with student groups, praised the Navy base and colleges in the Orlando area for expanding the message to policymakers. NTC trains recruits of both sexes and has imposed new educational programs as a result of a series of sexual harassment cases in recent years.

"A one-shot program for students doesn't work very well," he said. "The institutions here are pulling together and allowing me to work with administrators, counselors and faculty."

Friedman said he didn't think the number of college or military rape cases was necessarily increasing, "but there are more reports about it, and women aren't feeling so isolated."

"The country is buzzing with talk about these issues" because of the recent cases involving then-Supreme Court nominee Clarence Thomas, William Kennedy Smith and boxer Mike Tyson, he said.

The issue is particularly prominent in Florida after the demotion of a University of South Florida vice president accused of helping hush up a rape complaint against a star basketball player.

A key factor at the core of sexual awareness is that men and women want different things from sex, Friedman said. "They have different agendas, and each has to realize that," Friedman said.

"Sex is a positive, natural, healthy part of our lives. Rape is an issue of power, but it is also an issue of sex that goes bad."

He criticized what he said was the promotion of rape and sexual assault in the popular media, particularly in movies and videos and on television. "The media gives out a message that "no' just means "maybe,'

" he said.

Another key factor in female awareness is alcohol use because it plays a part in most sexual assaults, Friedman said.

Asked about sexual harassment cases in the military, Friedman said the same factors are present in the military as in college fraternities, dormitories and locker rooms _ places where men gather in groups.

"The critical issue here is homophobia: a fear of homosexuality, of being perceived gay by their peers. No guy wants that, so they do traditionally masculine things like bragging, sexual jokes and things that push men into sexual activities. . . . The change has to come from men."

In general, he said, institutions need to provide:

Formal policies that prohibit sexual assault.

Effective, broad-based prevention programs.

Access to medical and counseling services for victims, the collection of such data and publicity of it.

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