Cal Thomas’s column (Oct. 1) offered ideas for combating campus sexual assaults.

Thomas says conversations about sexual behavior should start with both genders long before college. I agree. He then says that young women should be taught to respect themselves and “conduct themselves honorably,” and that young men should be taught to be gentlemen and respectful of women.

OK, but shouldn’t both genders be taught to respect themselves, conduct themselves honorably and be respectful of both males and females? (Let’s not forget that males are victims of sexual assault … witness the recent sexual assault of young male football players at Sayreville High School in New Jersey.)

Thomas offered topics a father should discuss with his daughter— valuing herself, no premarital sex, not drinking much, having a friend along to ensure her safety, associating only with “people of good character.” But Thomas failed to suggest that parents talk to their sons. Shouldn’t all of those same standards apply? Don’t our sons deserve the same guidance?

And here are some more effective messages for both our sons and daughters: ensure that all sexual activity is engaged in only with the uncompromised consent of both parties; ensure that you or someone else isn’t exploiting a person who is “under the influence”; watch out for each other, intervene when you see someone “moving in” on another person; confront rape-supportive attitudes, jokes and behaviors; intervene in and report any sexualized “hazing” behavior.

Those are the messages that are more likely to prevent sexual assault.

Marty McIntyre, executive director

Sexual Assault Crisis Center, Lewiston

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