Over the last few years, there has been a surge in news articles about college campus sexual violence. Numerous students have reached out to their educational institutions to voice their concerns and demand action. Among undergraduate students, 23.1% of females and 5.4% of males experience rape or sexual assault through physical force, violence, or incapacitation (Cantor, Fisher, Chibnall, Townsend, et al., 2015). To make matters worse, more than 90% of sexual assault victims on college campuses do not report the assault (Fisher, Cullen, & Turner, 2000).
There is currently no federal law that mandates schools to implement an educational sexual violence prevention program. Unfortunately, only 25 states mandate that their public educational institutions present some sort of education around sexual assault (National Public Radio, 2016).
There is hope for students as more politicians are becoming concerned; sexual violence prevention program implementation on campuses is steadily increasing. Just recently, Massachusetts State Senator Michael Moore introduced a bill that would address sexual violence on college campuses in the state (Calabro, 2017). The bill would require all students and staff to receive annual sexual violence prevention and awareness programming. Nonetheless, there is much more work to be done in order to ensure the safety of our nation’s students.
One organization taking this topic seriously is National Health Promotion Associates, which developed the evidence-based Botvin LifeSkills Training (LST) programs that are proven to reduce violence and many other risky behaviors. LST is currently developing a program for college campuses that wish to improve their campus safety. The program focuses on:
- A holistic approach that will help students develop life skills necessary to thrive in school
- Raising awareness of how substance abuse can be a risk factor for sexual violence
- Clarifying the characteristics of healthy and unhealthy relationships
- Educating students on various topics such as what constitutes consent and information on bystander intervention
- Providing strategies and techniques to help students in risky or uncomfortable situations
Calabro, J. (2017, June 08). News | Moore’s Bill Addressing Campus Sexual Violence Voted Unanimously to Advance. Retrieved June 29, 2017, from http://www.golocalworcester.com/news/moores-bill-addressing-campus-sexual-violence-voted-unanimously-to-advance
Cantor D., Fisher B., Chibnall S., Townsend R, Lee H., Bruce C., Thomas G. (2015). Report on the AAU campus climate survey of sexual assault and sexual misconduct. Rockville, MD: Westat.
Fisher, B.S., Cullen, F.T., & Turner, M.G. (2000). The sexual victimization of college women. National Institutes of Justice: Bureau of Justice Statistics.
National Public Radio. (2016, August 09). To Prevent Sexual Assault, Schools And Parents Start Lessons Early. Retrieved June 29, 2017, from http://www.npr.org/2016/08/09/487497208/to-prevent-sexual-assault-schools-and-parents-start-lessons-early
Writer: Gabriela Rodrigues is a graduate of State University of New York College at Oneonta with a B.A. in Psychology and a Minor in Child Development. She will attend Columbia University this fall to pursue her Masters in Psychology.