CARMEL, Ind. (WTHR) – They pass background checks. They go through training. But sometimes, teachers and coaches break the rules.
Carmel Clay Schools leaders know this reality, and that’s why they’re turning to your kids to step up to stop sexual assault.
“Step Up to Stop Sexual Assault” is the name of a new empowerment program at Carmel High School. The school is getting help on this new initiative from a local law firm, Church, Church Hittle + Antrim.
By the end of the school year, about half of Carmel High School’s student body will have gone through the program.
“We’re starting with athletics because that’s where a lot of these problems happen. Band,” said Carmel Clay Schools Superintendent Michael Beresford. “We’re focusing on activities where there’s a lot of time spent with each other and with adults.”
Fall athletes, band members, and students in various clubs are going through the program right now. Instead of having a normal practice, they’re spending about 45 minutes diving into questions such as:
- What is sexual assault?
- Why report it?
- How do you report it?
“I think maybe the most important part is just understanding it at first,” said Carmel High School Senior and Football Player Aidan Ellison. “What sexual assault is? Look it up online and then spread the word. Tell your friends. I think that’s the best way to stop it. Talk to your community. Be open about it. Don’t be afraid to talk about it.”
Carmel Clay Schools Athletics Director Jim Inskeep says parents need to keep this conversation going at home and ask questions.
“We spent so much time and energy focusing on educating our coaches, our teachers, our faculty sponsors in different areas throughout the district so when we give that information to them, it’s great, but there’s another component to this that’s missing,” said Inskeep.
Inskeep says having students go through sexual assault training was the missing piece. Part of the program includes showing students a YouTube video called Tea Consent. It asks for you to imagine, instead of initiating sex, you’re making the person a cup of tea. The three minute video ends by saying: “Whether it’s tea or sex, consent is everything.”
“We believe 110 percent that if we give our kids good information, and we give them some simple tools that they will make good decisions,” said Beresford.
Another one of those tools is the STOPit app. Students can report sexual assault or any other concern to an adult anonymously through this app. About 5,600 students in Carmel have downloaded and signed up for this app. Last year, about 1,000 anonymous reports were submitted through the app in Carmel. The top three concerns students had were mental health issues, classmate conflicts and cyber incidents. Beresford says this app has helped save the life of at least one student.
“We want to keep encouraging our kids,” said Beresford. “They are the eyes and the ears of the school, and if they want to have a safe school and a good environment, it’s up to them. It’s another thing where they’re empowered to do that and they’re taking advantage of that opportunity. I’m proud of them.”
Below are more resources on how to talk with your child about sexual assault:
Curious why over 4,000 organizations worldwide are using STOPit’s anonymous reporting software and 24/7/365 monitoring services?