Back-to-school season is a perfect opportunity to share tips and resources on how students, parents, faculty, and administrators can all play a role in creating a safer environment on campus.
- Be an engaged bystander. Call out sexist jokes and victim-blaming, and make a commitment to speak up and intervene when you see problematic behaviors or hear offensive comments. Work to create a campus culture where sexual violence is taken seriously and is not tolerated.
- Lead the change on your campus. Take action by advocating for strong campus policies and educational programming on sexual violence prevention. Get involved in clubs and groups that are working to support survivors and promote a positive, healthy campus. Attend events for Sexual Assault Awareness Month each April and other activities that support survivors throughout the year.
- Support your peers. Believe someone when they tell you they have experienced sexual violence. Affirm that it wasn’t their fault, no matter what. Know where to turn to get help such as confidential counseling services on campus, a local rape crisis center, or the Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network (RAINN) hotline at 800-656-4673 and online.
- Start talking early and often about sexuality and development. You don’t have to wait until college or high school to have these conversations. Talking openly with young people and children provides a foundation for healthy attitudes and behaviors. Share age-appropriate information and let your child know you are there for them when they have questions about sex. Say things like, “It’s normal to have a lot of questions. It might feel uncomfortable to ask at first, but I’d rather you hear information from me.”
- Talk openly about consent. Help your child understand what consent is and where it fits in their life and relationships. You can say, “Consent should be freely given. If you pressure someone, that isn’t consent – even if they haven’t said ‘no.’ That applies in real life, online, and in texts.”
- Ask questions to your child’s college: Campus Police, Student Affairs, and the Office of Resident Life are all good places to start as you look to learn more about how your child’s school handles sexual assault and what the campus is doing to prevent sexual assault and support victims.
- Take a look at and beyond the numbers: Sexual assaults are common and are often not reported to authorities. Still, universities are required to publish and share information about the number of reported sexual assaults and other crimes on campus. A campus that reports a high number of sexual assaults in a year may have excellent services for victims and a supportive environment that encourages victims to report the assault they experienced. A campus that reports few or no sexual assaults in a year may have few services for victims, and a campus environment that discourages victims from coming forward about their assault.
- Play a role in shaping the campus environment. Be an engaged bystander and intervene when you see inappropriate behavior. Speak up if students or colleagues use oppressive language or make comments that reinforce victim-blaming or myths about sexual violence. Encourage others to do the same.
- Model healthy behaviors and reinforce positive messages. Create a safe and respectful classroom environment as a model for students and the broader campus community. Invite students to identify qualities of the classroom environment they feel are important, such as equality, safety, and respect for all students.
- Talk to your Title IX Coordinator. Learn more about your unique role in addressing sexual violence and how to respond to students who disclose to you their experiences with sexual violence. Find out and share resources and options that are available to students on your campus.
- Mobilize groups across your campus toward prevention. Collaboration across campus is critical for sustainable prevention efforts because it ensures consistent messages about a healthy, safe campus reach students wherever they are. Create a coalition to address sexual violence prevention and response.
- Implement training programs for everyone on campus. Coordinate with your on-campus sexual violence advocates and/or the local rape crisis center to conduct ongoing, mandatory training for faculty, staff, and students.
- Foster a respectful campus where students feel safe reporting negative experiences. Actively model respectful, equitable behavior to students, faculty, and staff. Be an active bystander and intervene when you witness inappropriate behavior. If students or colleagues make sexist comments or jokes about rape, speak up and explain why that is not tolerated on campus.