Sexual assault awareness important for prevention

CDC reports 20% rise in sexual violence among teen girls


Jordyn Reynolds

Infographic depicts rights that every sexual assault victim has when reporting the crime.

Jordyn Reynolds, Sports Editor

Every 96 seconds, someone is sexually assaulted in the United States, according to the website, which seeks to end the backlog of rape kits that need to be tested across the U.S. Last month, disturbing data involving sexual assault of teen girls came to light from a Center for Disease Control (CDC) report: “1 in 5 (18%) experienced sexual violence in the past year—up 20% since 2017, when CDC started monitoring this measure.”

Even thought they are aware it happens, students might not be as educated on sexual assault as they should be.  Shannon Williams, Silverado High School’s social worker, says it’s important for teens to know these statements: “My issues are important” and “Consent cannot be given while on mind-altering substances.” While clearly there is an increase in cases reported by the CDC, many victims are reluctant to report, so the number of cases could be even higher.

Williams believes that there is lower reporting of sexual assault from high school students because of alcohol use during the incident. Williams explains that victims should not hesitate to report an assault just because they are worried about getting in trouble. The police are concerned about the major offense, not the minor offense. If there is alcohol use involved, the victim will not be in trouble based on that.

Drugs and alcohol use are a big factor when it comes to date rape, according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse. Drugs that are prevalent in these incidents include Rohypnol, GHB, and Ketamine. Rohypnol is in the drug class of benzodiazepines. It can slow down your central nervous system and create feelings of drowsiness, confusion, slowed reaction time, and even amnesia. It can also result in overdose. It can take up to 20 minutes to cause an effect that will last up to 4-6 hours, reports the NIDA. Ketamine is an illegal dissociative anesthetic that can distort your perception. It can produce feelings of detachment, dreamlike states and impaired attention.

Kasey Kirkegard has worked in the sexual assault department for CSI, part of our local Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department.

“GHB is one of the most common drugs when they test for certain narcotics in the system,” Kirkegard said in an interview. 

If one experiences sexual assault, it can be difficult to handle. Often, victims do not know where to turn and sometimes feel as though they have nowhere to go. There are many resources that are available, however. These include RAINN, The Embracing Project, The Care Center, or the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-SAFE. 

For students who would like to make a report but aren’t sure how, there are on-campus resources. Williams can be found in the upstairs office on campus, but students can also reach out to the school’s teachers, police officers and any administrators. All resources are confidential. School staff are mandated reporters, however, meaning that if someone reports an incident that can be registered as an offense, the staff member learning of the incident must report it to higher authorities. As a victim, if you are to report, there will be questioning, but during this time you have the right to pause and take a break. The mandated reporter will be in the room with you during the time of questioning but is not allowed to speak at any point, according to Williams.

College campuses are greatly affected by date rape and sexual assault. Fraternities and sororities are a big target and a common place these date rape/sexual assault incidents occur. According to a University of Nevada, Reno report, rape cases went from two in 2017 to fourteen in 2018. These stats are slightly dated, but still show a significant rise in the number of incidents. For local college students, there is also help available such as the UNLV Care Line at 702-895-0602. 

Criminal prosecution against rapists is improving. In Nevada, we have achieved all six pillars of rape kit reform and successfully eliminated the backlog of all untested rape kits in the state. In 2020, there were zero untested kits, even with a recurring inventory. The bill SB368 was enacted in 2019 enabling the six pillars to be achieved. The bill created laws that require law enforcement to be involved in all testing of the kits and to document every date of when each kit was collected. The bill also dictates that the lab receives a time frame of 120 days to test the kit, the kit has to be under an up-to-date tracking system, the victim has the right to know and receive specific information about their kit, the victim has a right to be informed when there is a change or update on the status of their case, and victims have the right to receive and attain physical document identifying their rights under the law. 

In 2023, students may think they are already cautious, but it doesn’t hurt to strive to be even more cautious. The National Institute of Health advises these ways safety can be improved while going on a date: by going out on dates in public, letting people know where you are, not giving away personal information, staying as self conscious and aware as possible, and keeping in touch with people throughout the date. 

But if it happens, victims of sexual violence should reach out for help.