Writer: Ashley Bow

On September 1, 2017, new laws from the past year went into effect in Texas. The most widely spoken about, of course, is House Bill 62, which bans texting and driving throughout the state of Texas. However, there were other laws as well, and one appears to stand out.

House Bill 822, a short document which uses only 94 words, officially designates April as Sexual Assault Awareness Month. The authors of the bill intend for this designation to increase understanding of the issue of sexual assault by involving the public.

Sexual assault is defined in Texas as a person intentionally committing a prohibited sexual act without the consent of the victim- including when the victim is unconscious or otherwise incapable of consenting. According to the Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS), 19,537 people were victims of sexual assault in 2015. Over 25 percent of those victims were between the ages of 10 and 14.

Though it has previously been observed nationally, and President Barack Obama proclaimed April as Sexual Assault Awareness Month in 2009, the passage of this bill marks the first time the Texas state government has made a move to raise awareness and prevention within state borders.

Wording of the bill promotes observation of Sexual Assault awareness Month through appropriate activities in public schools and other places throughout Texas. House Member, and author of the bill, Terry Canales believes that by raising awareness of sexual assault and how to prevent it, the rate of the crime will be reduced, and we will take one more step toward ending misconceptions about the act.

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