‘It’s On Us’: April is Sexual Assault Awareness Month

Students and staff at Hood River Valley High School have been raising awareness of sexual assault with the “It’s On Us-Hood River” campaign. “It’s On Us” educates students and staff about sexual assault and freely given consent while debunking myths associated with this underreported crime, myths like, “It doesn’t happen in Hood River.” In fact, in 2015, 14 percent of the junior class at HRVHS reported that they participated in sexual activity they did not want. That is one out of every seven juniors at HRVHS. Sexual assault is happening in Hood River.

Preventing sexual violence has come squarely into focus for all the roles in my life as a community member, husband, parent of three (soon to be four) children, and the principal of HRVHS. It is my duty to ensure that young adults at HRVHS have the knowledge and skills to prevent sexual assault.

Sexual violence affects survivors, families, and loved ones immensely and immediately. However, in a less obvious way, these violent crimes also impact our schools and communities. Sexual assault drives a divisive wedge through our student body while impacting our criminal justice, medical, and mental-health systems and services. This violence and the threat of it erodes the safety net of our community and contributes to an atmosphere of anger and fear.

Please talk openly and frankly with your children about the reality of sexual assault. Educate your children — boys and girls — about consent, how it is given, when consent can be withdrawn and how to do so. Consent videos can be found on YouTube. (For young children, search YouTube: “Consent for Kids,” and for older children, “Tea Consent Clean.”)

Sexual Assault Awareness Week in Hood River County begins April 2. There are many events planned for the week; you can help raise awareness by joining any of the activities listed on the “Hood River Valley It’s On Us” Facebook page.

Thank you for helping us raise awareness to prevent sexual assault in our community.

It’s on us, Hood River. It’s on all of us.

Rich Polkinghorn

Principal, Hood River Valley High School

As head coaches of the Hood River Valley High School’s athletic programs, we strive to create an environment which teaches skill, competitiveness and sportsmanship. However, fostering personal growth in our athletes is the most important part of our work. In our programs, winning is secondary to character development.

April is sexual assault awareness month, so we write this letter to publicly recommit our program to developing individuals with the character to prevent sexual assault and the courage to speak out against it.

The National Center for Injury Prevention and Control states that nearly one in five women and one in 71 men reported experiencing rape at some time in their lives. It is a misconception that this issue appears in the college years. In fact, according to this same source, 29.9 percent of female rape victims were first raped between the ages of 11-17. It is also a misconception that sexual assault is not relevant to us in the Gorge. In 2015, almost 14 percent of HRVHS juniors reported experiencing unwanted sexual activity. These are our players, our students, and members of our community. It is our honor and our duty to protect them and give them the tools to protect themselves from sexual violence.

Join us in reaching out to our kids. Talk to them about situations when sexual assault may occur. Teach them when to look out for others and how to intervene on their behalf. Help us create a community in which sexual assault is unacceptable and survivors are supported. It’s on us to do something.

Tom Ames, athletic director

Brandon Bertram, head coach, boys/girls

cross country and track and field

Kelly Cunningham, head coach,

boys/girls swimming

Christopher Dirks, head coach, boys basketball

Kellie Dunn, head coach, girls water polo

Kevin Haspela, head coach, girls soccer

Donnie Herneisen, head coach, girls basketball

Jon Hiatt, head coach, boys tennis

Michelle Jacobs, athletics assistant

LisaAnn Kawachi, head coach,

cheerleading, competitive cheer

Scott Keillor, head coach, boys/girls skiing

Eric Keller, head coach, softball

Trent Kroll, head coach, boys/girls wrestling

Bonnie Lambert, head coach boys/girls

Nordic ski team

Andrew McElderry, head coach, girls lacrosse

Jaime Rivera, head coach, boys soccer

Dave Robinson, head coach, boys water polo

Caleb Sperry, head coach, football

Scott Walker, head coach, volleyball

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