Monday, September 21, 2009

Law Review Article Addresses School Violence

In the current issue of the Journal of College and University Law, Georgetown Law Center's Nancy Cantalupo examines the interrelatedness of peer sexual violence and other, more rare forms of school violence such as mass shootings. She argues that schools should address both types of violence with a victim-centered approach that encourages reporting. Among other reforms, Dean Cantalupo argues that schools should abandon the prosecutorial model for responding to peer sexual violence, which she argues no only deters reporting but can put an institution at greater risk for liability under Title IX and other laws. A victim-centered approach to peer sexual violence can contribute to a climate of safety on campus and in particular ways help prevent more extraordinary violence. Cantalupo explains:
Paying attention to the needs of victims gets away from focusing exclusively on the potential shooter and from the impossible task of predicting who is a shooter and who isn't prior to a shooting. Instead, paying attention to victims' needs focuses the institution on what the student has already done, not what he might do, and on the impact those actions have had on others. If Virginia Tech had taken more seriously the effect of Seung-Hui Cho's behavior in class on the other students, some of whom stopped attending class for fear of Cho, or if it had stopped his classmates from laughing at and telling Cho to “go back to China” when he read aloud in class, would Cho have slipped through the cracks as he did? While it is impossible to say for sure, it may be that if the institution had paid attention to either victim/victims, Cho would more likely have been caught in the campus safety-net.
The article is available for download on SSRN. Here is the citation:
Nancy Cantalupo, Campus Violence: Understanding the Ordinary Through the Extraordinary, 35 J. College & Univ. L. 613 (2009).