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Today we live in a world where we have learned to always “be safe” when we go out. We should always be with friends, be aware of our surroundings and keep track of how much we are drinking. We must never take our eyes off our drinks or put them down.

We learn these things in hopes that we will not become a victim of sexual violence.

Sexual violence is very common among college students. Drugs and alcohol are often involved. According to the Rape, Abuse and Incest National Network, 13 percent of college students experience sexual violence. Additionally, the Office on Women’s Health states that one in five college women experience sexual violence.

While we cannot prevent this issue directly, there are many steps we can take to help lower it.

Many universities require their students to take a training course on sexual violence. It includes date rape, signs of an unhealthy relationship and other forms of abuse. The training also has examples of sexual violence and tips on what we can do to reduce it.

While I believe that university training is a good way to reduce sexual violence among college students, I think there is more that we can do.

Victims are targeted in many strategies that are currently in place to help lower sexual violence. They teach us what we should do to help lessen the chance of being attacked. Instead, we should focus more on teaching people not to be predators.

To address predatory behaviors, we need to discuss what harassment is, what consent looks like and how to respect boundaries.

I also think it is important that we include information about the link between drugs and alcohol and sexual violence. Usually, we direct this factor to the victims. While it is important to follow our limits while drinking, it is just as important to address alcohol use among predators.

We could include this information in current university training courses. I also believe that teaching this to high school students before they are in college would be helpful.

Additionally, sex education is not a requirement in all schools throughout the country. Sexual violence and consent are in the sex-ed curriculum. Many students are missing out on this information. Keeping young people in the dark about these issues will not help reduce them. We should add a sex-ed curriculum in more schools.

Finally, I think it is important to change attitudes and behaviors using health programs at the college level. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention provides examples of many programs that focus on sexual violence prevention. I believe that universities should use these programs.

Remember, we can not prevent sexual assault alone. Our college students are at risk and they must be given education and resources to improve their safety and educate them on what it means to be a predator.

Using the ideas discussed above may be a step forward in lowering sexual violence among college students.

Meredith Pinard is a graduate student at the University of North Florida in the Master of Public Health program.

This article originally appeared on Florida Times-Union: Guest column: Address predatory behavior first to stop sexual violence

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