According to a National Public Radio broadcast, 1 in 4 women and 1 in 10 men will experience sexual assault or violence in their lifetimes, the most vulnerable time being associated with college life and the ages 18 to 25. The U.S. Department of Justice Policing Services found that college women are more at risk for sexual assault than women of the same age that are not in college, and estimated that 25% of college women have been victims of rape.
Sexual assault prevention has become an important issue for college and university campuses to stop ignoring and address directly. Especially for incoming students who have not yet become accustomed to campus culture, awareness and knowledge about sexual assault and violence is essential. As a result, many institutions have implemented a variety of prevention programs, such as conferences, workshops, online courses, and forums, in order to increase awareness about sexual violence and assault and to promote the role of the bystander.
At the University of New Hampshire, one such prevention approach includes an online seminar that is taken by incoming first-year students before arriving on campus. It is designed to stimulate discussions between students and their parents and family about sexual assault in order by providing talking points and online resources and statistics in order to anticipate potential situations and instances of vulnerability for students. In the year since its implementation, the university’s Sexual Harassment and Rape Prevention Program (SHARPP) has received two state awards, including the 2015 Presidents’ Leadership Award.
Another approach for preventing sexual violence is being developed by National Health Promotion Associates (NHPA) through funding by the National Institutes of Health (NIH). Based on the Botvin Lifeskills Training program, this sexual violence prevention program will focus on issues that tackle topics of sexual violence as well as related issues of drug and alcohol abuse and risky behavior. This “holistic” approach will encourage discussions and awareness about difficult topics and help college students develop life skills that will help them throughout their college years and beyond.