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Advocates look at how to prevent rape in schools following arrest of two East High boys

Alleged sexual assault happened on campus

Advocates look at how to prevent rape in schools following arrest of two East High boys

MADISON, Wis. - East High School families are still asking questions about an alleged sexual assault that happened on campus last week. 

Two 15-year-old boys were arrested after a 15-year-old girl told the school's resource officer that they sexually assaulted her in a bathroom. 

She said the incident happened after school at about 4 p.m. Wednesday. 

Joe Balles, the school district's safety and security coordinator, said there were two security guards in the building at the time. Throughout the day, six guards take shifts until 8 p.m., in addition to an educational resource officer during the day. 

"Our buildings are full of kids, and kids will be kids. As terrible and tragic as that incident sounds, I would just ask that people just be patient. Our schools are very safe but there are incidents that are going to happen from time to time," Balles said. 

He said East High's principal and vice principal are looking into what happened in an attempt to learn from it and make changes to their security procedures if necessary. 

Balles said as of now, they do not have any changes planned. 

"(I) assure you that the schools are definitely safe at night and that we have a presence in the building," he said. 

The Rape Crisis Center has reached out to East High's principal to offer counseling and additional educational presentations on consent.

"Forms of sexual assault are happening in schools every single day. Not always to this extent, but the way I like to approach it is - what level of sexual assault is acceptable in a school?," said Missy Mael, the Rape Crisis Center's director of education outreach and prevention.

She wants to see students educated about consent earlier in life. 

"By the time we're brought in, a lot of times it's not until eighth or 10th-grade, so maybe at the earliest 13 years old. And by then, there are quite a few sexually active kids and things are already happening," she said.  

She also believes our society makes it difficult for victims to come forward, and makes rape seem OK when perpetrators do not face consequences.

"We really need to lay a foundation where it's not acceptable to do these kinds of things -- and it's not just forced rape in a bathroom. It's grabbing someone in the hallway, it's telling jokes that minimize the experience of others," Mael said. 

Although rape is an under-reported crime, numbers show one in four girls will be sexually assaulted by the time they turn 18 years old. Statistics are one in six for boys. 

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