Friday, May 02, 2014

Task Force Report Promotes Climate Surveys and Sexual Assault Prevention

As we've noted, the White House Task Force to Protect Students from Sexual Assault released a report this week that makes recommendations to universities for assessing and preventing sexual violence.  One of the report’s key recommendations in this area is that colleges and universities conduct climate surveys to better identify the scope of the problem on individuals campuses. Sexual assault is notoriously underreported by survivors, so the Task Force recommends a more comprehensive climate survey to provide more meaningful information about prevalence of sexual assault as well as students’ attitudes and awareness. The Task Force has provided colleges and universities with this survey toolkit and encourages them to conduct climate surveys next year. The Task Force will also explore legal options for requiring schools to conduct these surveys.

With respect to prevention, the Task Force report seeks to identify best practices for reducing the sexual violence incidence rate on college campuses. Toward this end, the report links to findings by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention from its systematic review of primary prevention strategies.According to these findings, the most effective strategies are “sustained (not brief, one-shot educational programs), comprehensive, and address the root individual, relational and societal causes of sexual assault." The report also outlines promising bystander intervention strategies, as well as support for further prevention-focused research. Of particular interest (and source of pride) to the Title IX Bloggers, the bystander intervention material cited in the report was produced by our alma mater, the University of New Hampshire (see also).  UNH was also one of three institutions -- along with Johns Hopkins and the University of Texas at Austin -- singled out for leading the future of research in the area of sexual assault prevention. 

As an additional component of its prevention effort, the White House has released this public service announcement that speaks directly to men about consent and bystander intervention.

The report also contains recommendations to improve universities' response to reported assault, as well as government enforcement.  I've summarized those recommendations in an earlier post