Tuesday, October 06, 2015

Title IX Sexual Assault Groups Rise Up

From U.S. News and World Report on the uptick of reported assaults:

Sens. Barbara Boxer of California, Kirsten Gillibrand of New York and Tim Kaine of Virginia released data the department's Office for Civil Rights provided in response to letters the senators sent asking for greater transparency. The data show the number of sexual violence complaints at colleges and universities increased from nine in fiscal year 2009 to 102 in fiscal year 2014 – a jump of more than 1,000 percent. Meanwhile, the average length of time it takes the office to investigate cases that result in "substantive closures" – as opposed to those resulting in "findings of no violation or insufficient evidence," or another outcome – more than tripled, from 379 days to 1,469 days.
The number of college sexual violence complaints has increased more than 1,000 percent since 2009.
The Huffington Post has an article about the group, Stop Sexual Assault in Schools, which is the work of the parents of the Garfield student who was assaulted on a field trip in November 2012. 
Though Washington state law says there should have been an investigation within one week of the reported rape, Seattle Public Schools waited months to begin an investigation, and only did so after Warkov complained. The district said it delayed an investigation because the FBI was already looking into the case, but the bureau has disputed that claim, saying it would never have asked the school not to investigate immediately.

The nonprofit aims to help people whose sexual violence cases were mishandled take action by filing federal complaints, as college activists have been doing in recent years. SSAIS also wants to push for more prevention efforts, connect victims with resources and share information about how these cases are supposed to be handled.

In short, the group is putting school districts everywhere on notice: drop the ball when a student reports a sexual assault, and we'll expose it to the world. 

"In my observation, there are many more lawsuits against school districts than [there are against] universities arising from the school's response -- or lack of -- to sexual harassment and assault, but we're not hearing as much about other remedies like government enforcement, or about preventive measures aimed at K-12," said Erin Buzuvis, a law professor and director of Western New England University's Center for Gender & Sexuality Studies. "So it's good that SSIA is working to marshal resources and raise awareness about issue."

Where are the stats today?

As of the end of September, the U.S. Department of Education had opened 53 Title IX investigations at 51 schools and school districts -- a tally that more than doubled since November 2014.

There's also another group - Know Your IX - whose website has useful graphics that can help parents and school communities with their understanding of the issue.

The advocacy group Know Your IX has recently put out a toolkit to explain how Title IX applies to high school sexual assault cases. Directors of End Rape On Campus are advocating to expand affirmative consent education into high schools. The social impact team behind the campus rape documentary "It Happened Here" has worked to facilitate screenings in high schools

As well:

Last week, California Gov. Jerry Brown (D) signed into law two bills: One that mandates any school district requiring a health course to teach students about affirmative consent -- essentially, "only yes means yes" -- and a second to require all districts to provide sexual education classes twice between grades 7 and 12. 

Naturally, it can be asked - is there more sexual assault going on or are more victims reporting assaults?  I haven't seen data on that question but I believe it is likely that as more victims feel supported or understand there are protections out there for them, they will report their assault.  (You could also ask the question - as I have seen in other articles - about whether more students are claiming assaults.)  

24 comments:

Anonymous said...

Thanks, Melissa, for this posting.

The website for Stop Sexual Assault in Schools is here.

Adam

Anonymous said...


Adam, thanks.
The site has downloadable forms to probe school districts.

Shane in Shoreline

Anonymous said...

Something is seriously wrong with how our boys are being raised. Based on the number of dolts trying to sext my daughter, talking about body parts and being friends with benefits - Holy ^%$#@* And now with the loser UCC shooter blaming his problems on women who won't date him. I am disgusted!

Mom

Anonymous said...

If your child is the victim of harassment via text, twitter or other social media; take a screenshot. Teach your child how to screenshoot from their phones if they have one. Hale has been having issues with harassing tweets but unfortunately none of the tweets were screenshot and have since been deleted, thus no proof, just he said she said.

HP

Melissa Westbrook said...

There is a bit of trend with shooters who talked about not getting dates (the guy in Southern California said the same thing; that's why he wanted to go after soriority girls).

Anonymous said...

Mom.

Sexual cyber-bullying if it impacts the educational environment must be dealt with by the school under Title IX, a federal civil rights law. The ssais.org website has fact sheets on a variety of topics including sexual cyber bullying and it directs you on how to remedy the situation.

Proactive

Anonymous said...

Fortunately, in our case, my daughter has the sense and wherewithal to blow these *&^%@# off. I'm just astounded that they even think this is OK?!?!

Thanks Proactive, I'll remember your advice. I'm on it like Donkey Kong!

Mom

Anonymous said...

I am a supporter of equal rights for women. And I am against sexual contact without consent, in all categories. The one thing I see missing in the responses to sexual assault in high school and colleges is some talk with women/girls about how to protect themselves in high school and college life. Every time I ever mention this, people reply that no means no, etc.
WomenStudies'75

Anonymous said...

WomenStudies'75:

I believe that you get that response because it is putting the action and change in behavior back on the victim. Instead of asking, how do we keep women from being assaulted? We should be asking, how do we keep men from assaulting? Why are we not teaching our boys, not to assault rather than teaching our girls how to protect themselves?

Realistically, we need to do both. Both boys and girls should be taught how to protect themselves, how to stand up for themselves, and not to assault another person. No means no, and only yes means yes.

In India, the women are protesting on campuses that it is the men who should be locked up after hours, not the women. Curfews for men, not for women.

HP

Anonymous said...

Hi HP,
I understand where the commenters come from saying it is not right that girls need to do anything in particular to prevent rape. However, I also have seem my share of drunk boys age 16 to age 25 and don't know if all the teaching in the world can stop even 95% of the problems. I know that nice boys, well-trained, are also feminists. They may not be at a frat party when things get messy. Not to say everything happens at frats. In my high school it happened at a keg in a house. Who was blamed? Was it the popular athletes? No...the girl. Was she competent to say no? No. If she had been with a friend who had been trained to stick by her side and take action when things went too far, maybe she would not have had a terrible experience. Luckily I was not at the party.
WomenStudies'75

Anonymous said...

typo "seen my share", not "seem my share".
WomenStudies'75

Angry mom said...

Young women should take responsibility for their decisions but, you know, they don’t get raped because they were drinking and they don’t get raped because they took drugs…they get raped become someone raped them.

So sure, send your daughters to self defense class but TEACH YOUR SONS ABOUT CONSENT.

Anonymous said...

Hi angry mom,
Thanks for sharing your opinions. I do understand that people get raped when the perpetrator does it, not because of what the victim does. What I think is that even when we train our sons, and every person we can tell trains his or her son, that even then, if a girl (or a boy) experiences rape, it doesn't matter whose fault it was. The experience is so bad that if it could be prevented that it is a good idea. My wording above was not well-written about the 90%. I was trying to say, that even with good training, that some rape will still occur. There are probably at least two types of rape--the rape that happens between acquaintances who may be drunk and then the stranger-type. Prevention of rape among acquaintances is where training of the boys and pro-active thinking on the girls part could help. I did not mention a self-defense class--I think it is a good idea--but what I am thinking is that the topic should be discussed and that girls should realize that they can get into a difficult spot when they are in a place with a guy who is stronger than them and who has gotten drunk. The situation can be that the girl has also had too much to drink, and therefore loses her ability to think straight. The boy is supposed to get a Yes answer, but when both are too drunk, then it might be good to have a plan with friends to watch out for their friends. If the topic is just, "Train your sons!", then the topic is taboo. I think it is easy to say it is the boy's fault, but it doesn't matter whose fault it is if your girl gets raped. Of course it matters, but the harm is done.
WomenStudies'75

Lynn said...

This is an argument for training boys to never get drunk so they don't "accidentally" rape someone. Come on, the person who is the perpetrator has to be the one to change their behavior.

Lynn said...

And by perpetrator - I mean rapist.

Anonymous said...

Hi Lynn, No I don't consider that every drunk is a rapist. Nor do I say boys should not get drunk so they don't rape girls. It doesn't matter what I think, but I think that if a rape happens, it doesn't matter what boy should have been trained by his mother and father not to rape---how do we control that training?--but when the harm is done, there is no rewind switch. So do you think there is only one thing to do, train boys? Don't you think we are already training our boys that rape is not ok? Everyone I know already trains their sons that way. Why is there still rape?
WomenStudies'75

Melissa Westbrook said...

"Nor do I say boys should not get drunk so they don't rape girls."

I do.

And girls shouldn't get so drunk that they are not aware of what is happening.

Everyone I know already trains their sons that way.

And you know this how? Because I never discussed "training" my sons with other people about rape.

Anonymous said...

Hi Melissa,
I am meaning that in family life in my house, and in family life in homes of my friends, we teach the golden rule; we teach to respect others; we teach not to touch people when they say no; we teach that girls have private places not to touch; that boys have private places not to touch; to stop touching someone if they say stop. However, rape is still happening on college campuses and also in high school events across the country. The reporting has increased in the past 40 years, but it is still happening. What is the answer? I don't think the only answer is to say that we should train our boys to not rape. I think the other side of the story is to tell our children boys and girls that they should think about what situations they are choosing to put themselves in. When I was a kid, the instruction was about cars. A friend of mine who went to boarding school had a rule about the door being open on the room.
WomenStudies'75

Rufus X said...

@WomenStudies'75 said "I think the other side of the story is to tell our children boys and girls that they should think about what situations they are choosing to put themselves in.

In your opinion, what situations are males and females choosing to put themselves in that would lead to a question regarding rape or not rape? You've already differentiated between forcible rape by a stranger vs date rape. Curious about the existence of a grey area and what circumstances color that area as grey, in your opinion.

Lynn said...

WomenStudies'75,
Clearly not every family is teaching their boys the golden rule - look to the Garfield field trip case as an example.
I too am curious about what kind of limitations you believe I should put on my daughter so she doesn't get herself raped.

Anonymous said...

Hi Lynn,
I don't recommend you put any limitations on your daughter. What I am suggesting is that society talks about both sides to the story. I think it is a simplistic comment that if the boys didn't rape, then there would be no rape. It is true, but does it solve the problem? It doesn't solve the problem to say, "Train your boys!" Who are people talking to when they say that? Maybe not the rapists' parents. It may be one part of working in the right direction to reduce rape. In the meantime, I think the other part of the story is too taboo, preventing rape like we try to prevent STDs and pregnancy. Maybe nobody but me thinks this is relevant to today's times.
WomenStudies'75

Anonymous said...

Hi Rufus,
I can't find my comment about a grey area, but if I said that, I will retract it. Rape is rape. All I am trying to say is that blaming the rapist afterwards does not make it all better because the harm is done. That is why I think talking about dangers and thinking of prevention should not be taboo.
WomenStudies'75

Angry mom said...

It's not taboo. Are you kidding? It's the dominant narrative on this subject, to tell girls what to do to be safer. I'm just saying the onus should be on the perpetrators, who 95% of the time are males. It seems like this message has not been publicly addressed until recently, it's always been what were the girls wearing, why did they go to that party, why did they drink so much, etc. It doesn't solve the problem to say "train your boys" but it needs to be continually said. Something needs to be said anyway, and it should start when kids are young, just like you said, with teaching kids bodily autonomy and how to say no and that no means no, etc.

My daughter just went off to college 3 weeks ago. Sexual assault is epidemic on college campuses. I sent her to a self defense class this summer. I reminded her to never get in a car with anyone who'd been drinking. I told her I hoped she didn't drink to excess, but if she's going to a party to never let anyone else pour her a drink, and never let your drink out of your sight, and all kinds of things to hopefully keep her safer. I probably should get her some mace. Who knows.

I'm just saying we need to talk to boys as well, and what consent is, and that they are not entitled to the bodies of girls and women, ever. I don't think this is happening enough - it's always about the girls. It's not taboo in the least to talk to girls - I don't even know where you are getting that from.

Anonymous said...

Consent education, while important, does not take the place of Title IX education. Students must be educated about their rights and schools must properly implement their duties under Title IX. For example, if consent is given but one participant then sexually harasses the other and the school environment becomes hostile, the victim must know his or her recourses. Sadly, schools are ill-prepared to address their Title IX requirements, although they are required to be both prepared and proactive. The approach to solving this must be multi-pronged and comprehensive, starting in elementary school until students are fully aware of their rights. That's why some of us do what we do.

SSAIS.org