Prevention Corner: Campus Sexual Assault Prevention

Aug 21st, 1970

Prevention Corner: Campus Sexual Assault Prevention By: Jacob Burdette, Intern and Erin Leffew, Program Coordinator (Prevention & Education) Many, if not all, of us are familiar with the fact that 1 in 5 college women will be the victim of a sexual assault.  However, far fewer of us are familiar with the plethora of initiatives and technological innovations in place to combat this widespread violation of human rights.  This article serves to provide a basic understanding of the prevention efforts taking place on campuses across the United States, including those found in Maryland. With such disheartening data on the prevalence of sexual assault in college communities, it should not be surprising to hear that stakeholders from federal, state, and local governments have introduced programs and policies to prevent sexual assault on campuses.  For example, Vice-President Joe Biden launched the 1is2many initiative in September of 2011.  This initiative focuses on the use of technology and outreach to reduce sexual violence by educating teens and young adults about sexual assault. On their website, you can find steps for taking action, smart-phone applications for sexual assault prevention, as well as resource lists for young adults, parents, schools, and communities.  In addition to the aforementioned materials, the 1is2many campaign recently produced a PSA on sexual assault prevention which includes the President and Vice-President, as well as multiple male actors taking a stand against sexual assault and advocating for bystander intervention. While the 1is2many campaign is a successful and essential program in the fight to end sexual assault, there was still a need for a more college-oriented prevention program due to the nuances of Title IX & the Clery Act and the increased probability of occurrence for college women.  Thus, In January of 2014, President Barack Obama created the White House Task Force to Protect Students from Sexual Assault.  The WHTFPSSA produced its first report on eliminating campus sexual assaults in April of 2014 after having collected data on best practices from across the country.  In their report, the task force says that their participants consistently stated that prevention and education should be a top priority. Moreover, their report states that involving men in prevention efforts and teaching bystander intervention are important practices.  In conjunction with the task force, the administration created, where you can find information on service providers and organizations, Title IX requirements and the rights of students, and prevention resources from a variety of sources.  They also have a school enforcement map available that will allow you to see Title IX compliance issues on a school-by-school and state-by-state basis. In addition to the nationally organized movement to end rape culture and campus sexual assault, there are some local organizations in Maryland working toward the same goal.  One of these organizations is Baltimore-based FORCE: Upsetting Rape Culture, which works to promote a culture of consent through art installations in our nation’s capitol and through media presence across the US.  They’ve organized actions such as displaying the message “Rape is Rape” on the capitol building, creating a quilt of survivor’s experiences, and parodying the Playboy website to produce the “Top 10 Party Commandments: the Ultimate Guide to a Consensual Good time.”  Of course, these are only a few of the many actions they’ve taken, and you can check out their website to see more. Nationally and locally, people are standing up for survivors and working to end sexual violence. From sexual assault prevention groups such as Green Dot and Geeks For CONsent to Take Back the Night events on campuses statewide , more attention is being drawn to this epidemic we face. And together, we can create a future where rape culture no longer exists in our society.  

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