Male role models are needed to tell young men sex assault is wrong, pledge drive organizers said.
By LAURE CIOFFI
VINDICATOR NEW CASTLE BUREAU
NEW CASTLE, Pa. -- About 50 Lawrence County men have taken the pledge to end sexual violence.
That's just a fraction of what organizers of a petition drive are hoping to get this year in an effort to make men more aware and get more involved in preventing sexual assault.
Lawrence County's goal is to have 5,000 men to sign the petitions and statewide the goal is 1 million men, said Jeanette Rice, director of the Lawrence County Women's Shelter/Rape Crisis Center.
"We know most victims are women and children and the majority of perpetrators are men. It doesn't mean all men are perpetrators, but historically the problem has been left to women to solve. We can't fight this on our own. We need to draw in men [to help]," Rice said at Wednesday's rally at the Lawrence County Government Center to kick off the county's pledge drive.
Showing support: About 20 men lined up to sign pledges. An additional 30 or so had signed previously.
"All men have women they care about whether its their mother, sister, wife, daughter or friends. People don't live in isolation and we all impact each other. We need men to step up and be role models," Rice said.
Finding positive male role models to speak out against sexual assault is important, Rice said.
Statistics show that 17 percent of those arrested in a single sexual assault are males ages 12 to 20 and males younger than 20 are 30 percent of those arrested for multiple sexual assaults, she said.
People have to be more open about the negative effects of sexual assault to help end it, said Charles Mitcham, who counsels sex offenders at the Youth Development Center, a detention center in Shenango Township that houses juvenile offenders.
"What we know is our attitudes and beliefs about sexual assault have got to change. It's up to us to no longer be silent when it comes to sexual assault and abuse in this community," he said.