One of the nation’s leading experts on sexual assault prevention and bystander intervention is returning to Tulsa to encourage parents to educate themselves and empower their teens and young adult children about the facts and realities of these still taboo subjects.
John Foubert, who serves as a sexual assault prevention expert for the U.S. Army and a longtime member of the board of the National Center on Sexual Exploitation, is set to speak at 7 p.m. on Feb. 20 at Holland Hall’s Walter Arts Center, 5666 E. 81st St.
The event is open to the public and parents and educators from secondary schools and colleges are encouraged to attend.
“Holland Hall is the only high school I routinely visit. They are very forward thinking about how to address sexual violence,” Foubert said. “I’ve found that most high schools think that there are too many risks to talking about sexual violence — it is perceived as a radioactive topic — along with the other topic in my talk, the harms of pornography. I think one of the reasons this topic is viewed as taboo has to do with the lack of comfort that parents have with these topics being discussed.”
Since 2018, Foubert has been dean of the College of Education at Union University, a liberal arts and private Christian school located in Jackson, Tennessee, and served previously as a professor at Oklahoma State University.
This will be the third time Holland Hall has invited him to put on a day of workshops for students in grades 10-12 and an evening event for parents throughout Tulsa.
His focus during the student training is how to detect the signs of a possible sexual assault and how to react to protect themselves and others rather than remain a disengaged bystander.
Foubert’s aim in speaking to parents is to arm them with the information, statistics and resources about sexual assault they need to have important conversations at home.
He also discusses how parents can help their kids avoid pornography to promote their physical and mental health and prepare them for when they inevitably do encounter pornography.
In his experience, far too few high schools take on the subject matter of sexual assault and the dangers of pornography even though it is a critical juncture before teens reach college age, when the incidence of sexual assault is highest.
Frances Fondren-Bales, head of Upper School at Holland Hall, is particularly concerned with educating students before they leave high school.
“Yes, many people think of this topic as taboo. I do not. I think that sexual assault prevention is something that we must incorporate into our curriculum at college-prep schools,” said Fondren-Bales. “While the topic is challenging to discuss, I believe that it is more important to have those difficult conversations in order to empower our students to be better prepared for the world around them.”