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By on June 29, 2012

Recent research highlights value of sexual assault programming on college campuses

“Preventing sexual violence instead of just responding to it: Students’ perceptions of sexual violence resources on campus” highlights the high rates of sexual assault on college campuses and draws attention to the need to increase resources and safety programs to students on campuses throughout the country. The goal of the authors’ research was to describe male and female students’ perceptions of their campus sexual violence prevention programming. I saw this paper as both validation for and as a call to action for prevention and intervention specialists.

Study participants reported being concerned about sexual violence on campus, and called for increased resource dedication to the issue. The students who were surveyed were quick to identify at least one resource for survivors on their campus. Students were able to identify poster campaigns and educational programs that have been provided for the campus community on the values of consent and bystander behavior.

One caveat of this study was that the sample size from the five colleges surveyed was small – 12 to 18 students per campus and those students selected had to have worked for campus health services, hardly representative of the entire campus community. I wonder about the students not surveyed, students who do not live on campus, who are part time students, or who have never worked with student health services. In my opinion, those are the students who need to be studied, as they are most likely the ones who are most representative of the campus culture as a whole. Additionally, I would have been interested to know specific prevention skills that the students surveyed could identify. The presence of programming does not necessarily translate to the ability to prevent incidents of violence and reduce overall violence on campus.

Still, this paper draws attention to student concerns about safety on campus and their reported need for additional resources and programming to further reduce violence on campus. When students call on administrators to help them increase their level of safety on campus, we as prevention educators and intervention specialists cannot turn away – it is a call to action and reach out to colleges to see how we can support their existing efforts.

What suggestions do you have for working with colleges around sexual violence prevention and intervention?

Preventing sexual violence instead of just responding to it: Students’ perceptions of sexual violence resources on campus

Carolyn M. Garcia, PhD, MPH, RN, SANE, Kate E. Lechner, BA, Ellen A. Frerich, MSW, MPP, Katherine A. Lust, PhD, MPH, RD, and Marla E. Eisenberg, ScD, MPH

Journal of Forensic Nursing 8 (2012)61–71

Abstract

Rates of sexual assault of college students are higher than the national rates. Colleges are uniquely positioned to offer preventive education and support services to a high-risk group. This qualitative study examines students’ perceptions of sexual violence resources and services. Seventy-eight female and male students, between 18 and 24 years old, belonging to various demographic groups, participated in one-to-one walking interviews on five diverse Midwest 2- and 4-year postsecondary campuses. Findings suggest that students are concerned with safety—students want more education regarding sexual violence—and they value services that offer protection from incidents of sexual violence on campus. Participants expressed mixed reactions to prevention education that combined sexual violence prevention with alcohol and drug use. Students shared positive views of the security measures on campus. They emphasized the importance of using varied mechanisms for sexual violence-related resource messaging and advised moving away from the pamphlet toward posters and online resources. Recommendations are offered to strengthen existing resources, such as prevention education and postassault interventions including sexual assault nurse examiner services, and to minimize barriers to access of sexual violence resources.

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