By SARAH GRACE TAYLOR
“Got Consent?” That’s the question Julia Cook asks her fellow high school friends to raise awareness about sexual assault.
Cook, a senior at Franklin High School, began the Got Consent? initiative to help Williamson County teenagers feel safe talking about sexual assault if it happens and to make sure the issue of consent is being addressed at a young age.
“As high school students, we are mature enough to talk about consent and boundaries,” Cook said. “There are also laws surrounding issues of consent that many students may not be familiar with, and it’s important they understand. Our goal is to educate teens and empower them with the tools they need to say ‘that’s not OK.’”
Cook came up with the Got Consent? campaign and created a pledge for her fellow students to sign, modeled after the pledge the University of Virginia offers in its campus-wide sexual assault awareness program.
In addition to the video pledge, the initiative provides Circle of Six, a free phone app that allows students to create an inner circle of friends, family or other supporters to contact during a threatening situation.
Cook is partnering with the DiversityLeadershipProject.org website to launch her campaign. She is asking all high school students in the Williamson County community sign the Got Consent? pledge.
Diversity Leadership Project cofounder Randall Bedwell is excited about how this initiative could impact the community.
“Competitive colleges are looking for students like Julia who demonstrate a passion and act on it,” Badwell said. “It is heartening to see one of our Diversity Leadership Project students speak out against an issue that has long been stigmatized. Julia’s gaining a lot of support from her new friends who want to get involved. She’s making a difference.”
According to Cook, the initiative stems from her peers facing sexual assault and an apparent need for dialogue at an early age. According to the U.S. Department of Justice, approximately 1.8 million adolescents in the United States have been victims of some form of sexual assault.
Watch Cook’s video and view the Got Consent?
Pledge at www.diversityleadershipproject.org/gotconsent. If you or someone you know have been a victim of sexual violence, contact the national sexual assault hotline 1(800)656-4673 or visit http://rainn.org
In case of an emergency, call 9-1-1.