On Sept. 19, President Obama informed the public about a new campaign suitably named “It’s On Us,” which highlights an ongoing battle against domestic violence and sexual assault. As more individuals fall victim to this crime, the campaign takes a strong, appropriate place in the eyes of the public.
The campaign aims to to bring awareness to, and ultimately end, sexual violence and is endorsed by many celebrities and public figures, including actress Kerry Washington, actor and comedian Joel McHale and Vice President Joe Biden. Visit ItsOnUs.org to take a pledge to report and actively fight sexual assault and violence. Many schools and universities, including Rider, are letting their students’ voices join in the cry against sexual violence by encouraging them to take the pledge. According to ItsOnUs.org, the pledge serves as a “personal commitment to help keep women and men safe from sexual assault. It is a promise not to be a bystander to the problem, but to be a part of the solution.”
The roll-out of the campaign is aptly timed because next month is Domestic Violence Awareness Month, 31 days aimed at bringing awareness to the violence occurring in households and between couples. Organizations such as the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence (NCADV) have been working to call attention to this problem.
We believe that this campaign will prove to be effective among students. From children to adults, many of us admire and look up to a celebrity of some sort. If you were a fan of the show Scandal, for example, you would feel more compelled to listen to the words of one of the main actresses on the show, Kerry Washington, who appears on commercials for “It’s On Us.” You would find yourself more likely to pay attention. Utilizing celebrity endorsement is a clever way to catch our attention.
The success of the “It’s On Us” campaign can be predicted through observing the success of other celebrity-endorsed campaigns. One charity that many people are familiar with is VH1’s “Save the Music Foundation.” The foundation transforms donations into musical instruments or financial support for fledging music programs in schools across the nation. In 2013, according to the website’s annual report, they were able to donate to 48 schools and with donations totaling some $1.6 million. In the same year, the foundation received more than $3.4 million of unsolicited public support in monetary or instrument donations. The reason the “Save the Music Foundation” has been so well recognized, especially by students, and able to receive so much money is because of its celebrity support. Popular celebrities such as Britney Spears, Nicki Minaj, Jamie Foxx and Jon Bon Jovi have actively supported the cause.
However, “It’s On Us” is a campaign battling an issue that is a stark contrast to music education. The issues of sexual assault and domestic violence have lately taken a spot at the front of the nation’s conscious.
We believe the current focus is timely and needed. According to the NCADV, in the United States, one in six women and one in 33 men will experience an attempted or completed rape in their lifetime. In 40 to 45 percent of relationships where domestic abuse is present, forced sex also occurs. Another startling fact reported by the NCADV is that only “one quarter of all physical assaults, one fifth of all rapes, and one half of all stalkings perpetuated against females by intimate partners are reported to the police.”
The information is unsettling. Many men and women are being attacked, and the majority of these attacks are not being discussed. As the years go by, the numbers of sexual assaults is increasing. Still, some students choose to ignore or discredit these issues. They blame the victims. With one in six women and one in 33 men becoming victims of at least attempted rape, any person in your lecture hall, dorm building or place of work may be suffering more than you realize. This is not the time to be cold or indifferent. This is the time to take the pledge.
The “It’s On Us” campaign is standing firmly in the way of sexual abuse and domestic violence. Because of the strong celebrity support, this new movement and its inspiring pledge will be nearly impossible to knock out of the way. The rise in awareness of this issue stems from a social awakening, especially in our generation, to the fact that people in this country continue to be attacked and violated, but that we can take action. Through the campaign, more students will learn and take the pledge against sexual and domestic violence. As more students learn how to prevent sexual assault and support victims, we come continually closer to changing the statistics and protecting those who may feel too weak to take a stand against sexual violence.
The weekly editorial expresses the
majority opinion of The Rider News.
This week’s editorial was written by the Opinion Editor, Samantha Sawh.
Printed in the 09/24/14 issue.