The PLEDGE 4 Ithaca campaign is a critically important initiative to bring light to the unrecognized problem of sexual violence in our elementary, middle and high schools, and to garner the necessary resources and support that will protect children from sexual assault and rape. The national statistics are shocking. One out of every six American women has been a victim of attempted or completed rape. According to Rainn.org and advocatesforyouth.org, 44% of sexual assault and rape victims are under the age of 18, 29% of sexual assault and rape victims are ages 12-17, and 15% are under age 12.

Most childhood sexual abuse/assault occurs in a residence; 84% of sexually abused children below the age of 12, and 71% of sexually assaulted children aged 12-17. Other locations include schools, scouting, lessons, camps, and faith based activities.

The effects of sexual assault may be devastating. Victims of sexual assault are more likely to suffer depression, post-traumatic stress disorder, contemplate suicide, and abuse drugs and alcohol.

These are not just statistics. These are our children and the children in our community.

While we pride ourselves on our highly educated and proactive community, Ithaca is not immune to this devastating problem.

Higher Education

Although much has been implemented for sexual violence awareness education and prevention on college campuses, the same is not true for elementary, middle, and high school educators, students and their families. Students in grades K-12 are not being given the information and tools to prevent this from happening to them.

Elementary Middle/High Schools are where colleges were 5 years ago – in the Dark Ages

Under the SAVE Act of 2013, an amendment to the Clery Act, colleges receiving federal student aid must educate students and staff alike on prevention of rape, domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault and stalking. Universities also must meet certain standards pertaining to campus response, including disciplinary proceedings for perpetrators.

Policies regarding sexual abuse, (both preventative educational measures, as well as protocols for when and how an assault is reported) for the U.S. Primary and Secondary education system, is not as organized. This means that the regulations pertaining to the handling of sexual abuse in schools not only varies from state-to-state but also at the district level. According to Break the Cycle, an organization that focuses on teen dating violence, more than 80 percent of high school guidance counselors say they feel ill equipped to deal with reports of abuse on their school campuses. By standing with Pledge 4 Ithaca we can help secondary schools receive the information and guidance that they so desperately need.

Mission Statement

At Pledge 4 Ithaca, our mission is to protect children in Grades K-12 from sexual violence through education and awareness.

We will work with the community to stop sexual assault from taking place in our schools and in our community.

It takes the work of a community to influence change; Pledge 4 Ithaca is here to help prevent sexual assault of elementary, middle, and high school students. Our community has the opportunity to shape change not only in Tompkins County but in all communities. This is a local, regional and national problem.