As many high schools seniors are busy preparing for college, five students from two South Florida schools are devoting their time to delivering a sensitive, yet important message.
“We want to make sure that all high school students know that they play a role on the prevention of sexual assault in all college campuses around,” said Jonathan Aguiar, the founder of KNOW MORE, an organization to help raise awareness of sexual assault in college-bound students.
Statistics from the National Sexual Violence Resource Center showed that one in five women and one in 16 men are sexually assaulted while in college. More than 90 percent of these crimes are never reported, according to the same report.
KNOW MORE started in May 2016 when Aguiar teamed up with four other students who felt sexual assault was an underrepresented issue in South Florida high schools. The students wanted to make a change by helping their fellow students make “informed decisions.”
“In order to eliminate the root of the problem, we need to create and foster a culture where we don’t tolerate sexual assault,” said Aguiar.
Members of the organization include two female students from Carrollton School of the Sacred Heart and three male students from Christopher Columbus High School. Both are single-sex schools in Miami-Dade.
“I had recently watched 'The Hunting Ground,' which is a documentary about campus rape, and I guess I realized this issue was going to be a reality for me,” said Regina Morfin, vice president of KNOW MORE.
Twenty-three percent of females in undergraduate programs experience rape or sexual assault, according to reports from the Rape, Abuse and Incest National Network (RAINN).
Although funding for the group has been a challenge, the students have found ways to get their message across.
Fundraising director Mariana Suarez explained the light blue bracelets they sell mean more than just money. Suarez said the bracelet is a “visual reminder” of the organization’s commitment to end sexual assault.
In addition, more than 2,000 people have signed the group's pledge.
While some of the students of KNOW MORE will soon be pursuing careers in engineering, astronomy and political science, the group hopes to continue working together to expand their organization nationwide.