Are assault preventatives effective?

This story is part of a spread the Torch ran on the issue of sexual assault.

Within the last year, potential date rape preventatives have been created in order to help prevent sexual assault and violent crimes.

Companies such as DrinkSavvy and LifeShel are among the three latest manufactures to generate these products, which range from cups and straws to cellphone cases.

In 2013, four North Carolina State University undergraduate students became notable after claiming they had made a nail polish that can potentially prevent date rape. In order for the nail polish to work, the holder would stir his or her finger in the cup. If the nail polish changed color, it was a signal that the drink had been drugged.

However, a Washington Post article published in August debunked the product’s effectiveness by stating that tests examining the nail polish failed to identify the drugs, and showed ‘false positives’ for others.

Other preventative products include the Whistl, a cellphone case designed by LifeShel that, in any uncomfortable situation, can notify police and loved ones with the touch of two buttons.

DrinkSavvy, another date rape preventative company, focuses on using cups and straws to hinder sexual assaults. If a drug is blended into a drink, the cup or straw will turn a different color.

Some critics believe that although the products are filled with good intentions, they reinforce the victims’ responsibility rather than teaching the wrongness of sexual assault.

After the aforementioned news on the date rape nail polish preventative broke in August, an article published on ThinkProgress noted the faults of the idea.

Tracey Vitchers, the board chair for Students Active for Ending Rape, told the website, “I think that anything that can help reduce sexual violence from happening is, in some ways, a really good thing, but I think we need to think critically about why we keep placing the responsibility for preventing sexual assault on young women.”

Some St. John’s students believe the products are a big step in reducing sexual assault. Angela Necco, a sophomore, considers the preventatives to be an improvement.

“It’s good that companies are putting effort in making products that can help others,” Necco said.

Freshman Justin Katz agrees. “The focus of who is at fault should not be what we look at,” he said. “Rather, we should be grateful that steps have been made to try to prevent date rape from even happening.”

Besides these products, Katz believes there are more approaches to help prevent sexual assault and violent crimes, such as the use of seminars. “Seminars with victims of these crimes would have a massive emotional impact with students, as it would bring the reality of the seriousness of these issues,” he explained. “We often forget how powerful speech can be in person.”