LA High School Senior Works to Bring Sexual Assault Awareness to Students

LOS ANGELES

TOMORROW’S MOVERS AND SHAKERS TODAY--Crespi Carmelite High School senior Justin Miller (photo above) says, “A year ago, I watched The Hunting Ground, the award-winning documentary by Kirby Dick about sexual assault on college campuses. Then, I watched it again. And again. It hit me hard. I could not shake it.” 

The 2015 documentary produced by Amy Ziering follows the experiences of college students raped on campus who face retaliation and harassment as they fight for justice. One in five women will be the victim of sexual assault during their college experience – and that’s a statistic Justin would like to see turned around. Eleven million women are currently enrolled in higher education nationally and of that number, 2.5 million will be assaulted. 

Inspired by the documentary, Justin founded Seniors With A Mission (S.W.A.M.), with the initial goal of producing Raise the Volume, a one-night event at the Saban Theater on April 27. The teen started a GoFundMe and raised over $6,000 to underwrite the event but due to some logistical issues, has decided to donate money raised to The Rape Treatment Center. To expose Los Angeles-area high school seniors to this crucial issue before they leave for college, Justin has appealed to Kirby Dick and the team at The Hunting Ground to allow the film to be screened for free at participating high schools, including Crespi Carmelite, Louisville, Marlborough School and other schools in Los Angeles. 

“I am going to ask each high school to screen the film for their seniors,” the teen says. “If we can make this happen, we will ultimately reach more high school seniors and be left with more money to donate to The Rape Treatment Center. Although I am disappointed that we had to rethink the Raise the Volume event, it might yield the most benefit for the overall cause, which is awesome.” 

Justin, a writer/director who will be studying at NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts next fall, explains most assaults happen during the first weeks of freshman year, as students begin their college experience, forever changing their lives. The mission of the S.W.A.M. is to “change the College Campus Culture to one of Compassion and Respect.” A painful and difficult subject will be embraced by an entire generation and revolutionized into a message of dignity, hope, and transformation.” -- Raise the Volume 

The Rape Treatment Center at Santa Monica-UCLA Medical Center was established in 1974 and is nationally recognized for its pioneering work in the treatment, prevention and education arenas. The RTC provides free comprehensive and compassionate care for adult and minor victims of sexual assault and operates 24 hours a day. 

Services include emergency medical treatment, forensic services, crisis counseling, and longer-term psychotherapy, advocacy that includes accompanying victims during legal and court proceedings, as well as during medical appointments. The Center provides information about rights and options so that victims can make informed choices. Over 50,000 victims and their families have received this support services. 

In addition, The RTC prevention education serves thousands of Los Angeles middle school, high school and college students. Students learn about rape, sexual assault, peer sexual harassment and other forms of abuse. The students are also exposed to prevention strategies, including options in high-risk situations, safe intervention strategies when they witness a peer being sexually abused, assaulted, harassed or bullied, as well as how to get help. The center works with educators and administrators to best address sexual abuse, bullying, sexual harassment and other forms of sexual violence on campuses, as well as to develop effective prevention policies and strategies. 

The center provides professional training and education programs that reach thousands of victim services providers each year, including police, paramedics, prosecutors, medical and mental health practitioners, and school personnel. An additional area of impact is Public Education and Policy Reforms.

To donate to S.W.A.M.: Raise the Volume, visit the Go Fund Me page.

 

(Beth Cone Kramer is a Los Angeles writer and a columnist for CityWatch.) Prepped for CityWatch by Linda Abrams.

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