Earlier Prevention and Awareness Programs
Much of the 'rape culture' driven attitudes and misperceptions that I saw in my interviews and research seemed deeply imbedded in the respondents thinking and ideas. This makes sense as it has often been shown that many of the traits that are common in male perpetrators are developed early, well before the completion of adolescence (Abbey, 2004). Once established, it is very hard to curve these modes of thinking. From my interviews, it was clear that the programs that all of the respondents took part in during their respective college orientations had very little affect on their attitudes (whether negative or positive) and thoughts toward sexual assault.
For this reason, I feel that, from the information that I have attained, the best course of action looking forward is to start prevention and awareness programs much earlier, rather than waiting until student's are in their late teens. Jillian Ray has said that we need to change our current "don't get raped" message to a "don't rape" message. By establishing prevention and awareness programs that address the issue to younger students, we can cut out many of the traits and misperceptions that lead to young men (and women) committing sexual assault. It will also be necessary to put a greater emphasis on the punishments and criminal recourse that come with committing a sexual assault. As my interviews showed that many of the instances of sexual assault that I described were seen as moral gray areas by some of my male respondents, it seems highly necessary to not only show them that it is in fact sexual assault early on, but to teach them how severe the punishments are for such crimes and let them know that they will not have impunity.
As it has been shown that alcohol consumption prevents many perpetrators from considering the negative ramifications that they will experience from their actions (Abbey, 2002). Perhaps if there is greater knowledge of the potential prison terms and consequences of such an action, many will refrain from committing sexual assaults. Further, knowledge of how severely punishable these acts are and combined with a greater understanding of the problem gained from adolescent information programs will greatly change the role of the peer bystander in college sexual assaults. A fraternity brother will be more prone to stop his 'brother' from committing a sexual assault. Victim blaming will greatly decrease, which in turn will empower more victims to step forward and receive the help that they need.