Remarks by Governor Wolf at It’s On Us PA Press Conference
June 08, 2016
I want to thank all of you for being here to contribute to the important work that the “It’s on Us PA” campaign is doing.
The effort to combat sexual assault and provide a safe haven for Pennsylvania’s students and young people is extremely important
That is why Pennsylvania became the first state in the nation to join the White House in this noble effort
This initiative has three goals
First, to improve awareness, prevention, reporting and response systems in the commonwealth
Second, to remove or at least reduce barriers that prevent survivors from reporting sexual assault
And third, to demonstrate that we are committed – at all levels – to the task of eradicating this scourge in Pennsylvania
We need to treat sexual assault in our schools and colleges as the serious problem it truly is
We need to agree that we’re not going to put up with it any longer
That’s because sexual assault has a corrosive effect on all of us, and especially on those who are assaulted
An estimated 1 in 5 college women are assaulted
Nearly 20% of young women between the ages of 14 and 17 are sexually assaulted
Mostly by someone the survivor knows and trusts
Or a family member
And the impact is serious and widespread
Survivors are more likely to experience immediate and long-term health issues like:
Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) – 94%
Depression – 75%
And suicidal tendencies – 35-50%
Safety is a fundamental civil right and sexual assault is a clear violation of that civil right
When that violation occurs for any member of a community
It occurs for every member of that community
It violates the right of everyone to a safe society
Pennsylvania must take a stand against sexual assault.
That’s what the “It’s on Us PA” campaign is all about.
It is about we, as a Commonwealth, saying that this act is entirely unacceptable and against the way of life we envision for ourselves and those in our community
When these acts are not taken seriously, or ignored, victims are singled out for humiliation and those that have committed them go unpunished
That’s what happened at Stanford University, where a member of the University swim team was caught in the act of raping a young woman
He received only 6 months in a county jail with probation, while his victim will have to live the rest of her life with the feeling of violation and danger that he caused
These kinds of leniencies send a message to the community that we are not serious about preventing sexual assault, and safeguarding our young people.
These kinds of leniencies are unacceptable.
The “It’s on Us PA” campaign is about delivering that message across the Commonwealth.
We need to end sexual assault
My administration is committed to this goal.
We have great partners in this effort who are committed to doing just that
Since January, over 800 people – including over 200 colleges, universities and school districts in Pennsylvania – have signed the pledge to join the “It’s on us” campaign
My administration has engaged them to help in this effort
Over the past 6 months, we have held roundtables across the Commonwealth to hear from survivors, students, healthcare professionals and policy makers, trying to create better strategies for ending sexual assault
To that end, I have proposed $1 million in the 2016-17 budget to invest in community partnerships that will help prevent sexual violence and remove barriers to reporting in schools across Pennsylvania
Additionally, I have directed the Department of Education to provide support and technical assistance by administering this program and align state level resources to better support school districts and postsecondary institutions
In the near future, my administration will introduce a legislative package designed to ensure that safety and wellbeing of students and young people
This package will target the enormous number of statutes and regulations that cover different types of harassment and violence to identify opportunities to prevent sexual violence
I am determined to make Pennsylvania a shining example to the rest of the world as to what committed citizens can do to make our world better
It’s truly on all of us to accomplish this
Let’s get to work
And thanks for your commitment to freeing our commonwealth of the problem of campus sexual assault
Now, I am very proud to turn the podium over to Coach Jay Wright
Coach Wright is a key ally in the effort to end sexual assault on campus
He, like the rest of us, is committed to making sure that sexual assault has no place in the life of a young person.
He also happens to coach the National Champion Villanova Wildcats Basketball team
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