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By on August 4, 2017

Campus Sexual Violence in the News: Urgent Call for Action on Prevention and Policies!

This week the New York Times, Inside Higher Ed, and Glamour magazine have continued the conversation by releasing articles on preventing campus sexual violence.

Vanessa Grigoriadis’s article in Glamour titled, “Why Is Campus Rape Still So Prevalent? A 40-year-old Journalist Went Back to College to Find Out” documents interviews conducted with students, faculty, and staff at more than a dozen schools, and psychologists and sociologists as well. Interview findings ranged from prevalence, patterns, and nature of sexual violence incidents to the importance of consent and healthy relationship education. Grigoriadis also touches on bystander intervention programs and affirmative consent policies.

The urgency for preventing sexual violence is also echoed by Brian Van Brunt and Amy Murphy in their article Inside Higher Ed article, “A Sound Prevention Base for Addressing Campus Sexual Violence.” Besides investing in crisis intervention, counseling and responses to sexual assault, this article too emphasizes that the best way to reduce the prevalence of sexual assault on campuses is for institutions to develop prevention and assessment efforts. Drawn from their 2016 book, Uprooting Sexual Violence: A Guide for Practitioners and Faculty, Van Brunt and Murphy (2017) first describe important risk factors that contribute to sexual violence such as harmful beliefs and underlying attitudes and then make recommendations for prevention. These recommendations include monitoring social event planning, challenging viewpoints, and teaching consent, empathy, and healthy relationship skills.

While prevention practitioners continue to voice the importance of prevention efforts on campuses, many are worried about new leadership at the Department of Education and what it will mean for Title IX.  In the New York Times article “Don’t Weaken Title IX Campus Sex Assault Policies”, Jon Krakauer and Laura L. Dunn point out how school administrators have shown negligence in enforcing the policies under Title IX. This leads to students feeling discouraged to report their victimization to law enforcement or university administration, fosters victim-blaming and reinforces rape myths in a campus culture. Revoking policies and laws by Title IX would only re-traumatize survivors, encourage universities to be complacent in their reporting and response protocols, and deter from shifting the culture to a safer, trauma-informed, survivor-focused, respectful campus.

It is great to see continued media coverage around prevention and campus sexual violence. Let us know if you have come across other articles this week!

**This blog was co-authored with Ashleigh Klein- Jimenez, Project Manager, PreventConnect



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