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TN high school student pushes for education on consent, sexual assault awareness

TN high school student pushes for education on consent, sexual assault awareness (Fox 17 News)

A Williamson County student asked the school board on Monday to implement education on consent and boundaries for high school students.

Got Consent? was created by a Williamson County student to raise awareness around sexual assault among high school students in Tennessee.

Julia Cook, a senior at Franklin High School, is the mind behind this campaign. She said no one is immune to sexual assault and harassment.

"I’ve had friends come to me about things...in Williamson County, me, myself," Cook said.

All too often, she said victims feel silenced and shamed by the experience.

"It’s always very hard to adapt to if something happens," Cook said. "I’ve had friends come and talk to me and cry together. Boys and girls. It’s just something that can really hurt someone if they feel they can’t reach out and get help."

"Julia came to me and said 'there’s a lot of stuff in the news about campus sexual assault right now. What can we do,'" Cook's college advisor Randall Bedwell said.

Cook's adviser said the senior wants every teen in Williamson County to have the tools to speak up when they encounter sexual assault or have a friend who becomes a victim.

This is why she came up with the Got Consent? campaign and created a pledge for her fellow students to sign. It's modeled after the pledge the University of Virginia offers in their campus-wide sexual assault awareness program.

Cook and other Williamson County teens took their Got Consent? campaign video and efforts to the Williamson County School Board meeting on Monday night.

Cook said she hopes the school district will get on board with implementing education on consent and boundaries for high school students.

"I feel like a lot of teens are scared to say something," Cook said. "It definitely has an impact on someone’s life but can honestly be overcome with a good support system."

The teen is partnering with Bedwell's College Path Consultants LLC and its Diversity Leadership Project DiversityLeadershipProject.org to launch the campaign.

"My son had that training from me," Bedwell said. "The most important thing we’ve seen is there is a lot of literature for college campus sexual violence. There’s very little at the high school level so what we had to do is look at the curriculum and primarily at the University of Virginia, and we had to extrapolate the information and put it at the high school level."

In addition to the pledge, there are opportunities for students to learn more about boundaries and the importance of consent. Another key part of this campaign is Circle of Six, a free phone app that students use to cultivate a close group of trusted friends, family, and other supporters who can respond if an uncomfortable or threatening situation occurs.

Cook is partnering with the website to launch her campaign asking all high school students in the Williamson County community sign the Got Consent? pledge.

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