An appropriate and effective response team to handle sexual harassment and assault in school environments requires coordinated programming and action by multiple actors at the school, state, and federal level.
For K-12 Schools:
- Adopt and publicize a non-discrimination policy that outlines the school’s responsibilities with respect to responding to sexual violence and identifies procedures to be followed and the identity of staff to contact if sexual victimization is experienced or observed.
- Provide early education on sexual harassment and sexual assault be integrating gender violence into the curriculum so that students understand what it is, that it is not acceptable and how to report it.
- Implement bystander education programs, which engage students by imagining every person as a potential witness (rather than the victim or perpetrator) of sexual violence.
- Provide mandatory education to the entire school staff by recognized experts in the area of sexual violence on how to identify sexual harassment and how to respond to it.
For Colleges & Universities
- Adopt a sexual harassment policy that is readily available and clearly describes all forms of sexual misconduct, including what is and is not consent, prevalence of non-stranger sexual assault (acquaintance rape), drug facilitated sexual assault, the effects of sexual assault, how to report an assault, and available resources on campus and in the community.
- Adopt a procedure for community members seeking to file a complaint. The procedure should be written in easily understood language and widely disseminated so that students know it exists, how it works, and how to file a complaint.
- Train campus police, security personnel, and other individuals charged with responding to sexual victimization to effectively respond to sexual assault complaints.
- Make crisis intervention services available to students 24/7, every day of the school year, and make free emergency contraception, antibiotics and post-exposure HIV preventative treatment available in school health centers.
- Make long-term counseling services available for students, including access to unlimited free counseling for survivors.
- Provide annual educational programs regarding sexual assault.
- Promote reporting of sexual assaults by better handling of reports, having peer educators and advocates, and assuring that victims will not be punished if they report an assault that occurred while they were drinking or using drugs.
- Administer appropriate discipline, including suspension and expulsion, in order to eliminate the hostile environment, enable the victim to recapture her life, and prevent repeat offenders.
- Adopt a gender-violence policy that sets forth clear actions for individuals and schools that violate the guidelines.
- Adopt legislation that protects individuals who testify in school internal judicial proceedings from being sued by persons against whom the judicial proceedings were brought. The current lack of legal protection deters victims from, or punishes victims for, testifying in school grievance proceedings. Victims have been sued for bringing charges against and testifying against perpetrators.
U.S. Department of Education
- Vigorously enforce Title IX’s protection for sexual assault victims:
- Revise complaint procedures to give the complaining party a greater role in the administrative process and complaint resolution.
- Increase staffing and resources to the Office of Civil Rights to expand its capacity to address complaints more effectually and promptly.
- Adopt the Campus Sexual Violence Elimination (SAVE) Act, which strengthens the response of colleges and universities to sexual violence and increases student safety by expanding college and university obligations and reinforces many aspects of previous guidance for disciplinary proceedings.