As high school and college students begin a new school year, Vice President Joe Biden is making a personal appeal for their help in ending violence against young women, which continues to occur on campuses across the country at disconcerting rates.
“The reason I’m talking to you today is I need your help. We’ve got a big problem in the United States,” Biden says in a new video message posted online and tweeted out by the @VP account. ”The problem is too many young women are getting victimized by sexual assault, and it’s happening way too frequently in high schools and on college campuses.”
Teenage girls and young women ages 16 to 24 face the highest rates of dating violence and sexual assault, according to the Obama administration. One in 10 teens have reported physical abuse by a boyfriend or girlfriend in 2010; one in five college-age women said they were victims of sexual assault.
“There’s no such thing as an innocent bystander when it comes to the abuse of a woman,” Biden says. “If you know of it, or you see it, you have an absolute obligation to try and stop it. And the only way we’re going to stop it is if all of us speak up and make it clear that violence against women will not be tolerated in your school, on your campus, any time for any reason period.”
Biden also has a message for men and boys, looking directly into the camera to deliver what he calls “a very simple rule.”
“No means no,” he says. “No means no if she’s drunk or sober. No means no if she’s on the dorm room or the street. No means no even if she said yes first and changed her mind. No means no no matter what. I’m asking all of you, all of you to help get this message out.”
Biden, a longtime advocate for women, authored the Violence Against Women Act when he was in the Senate. It was signed into law 17 years ago today.