Rape in the School Environment
While rape is more likely to occur on a college campus, rape occurs in the high school setting as well. Title IX applies to most high schools and colleges, and gives schools certain obligations when dealing with sexual violence among students.
Under Title IX, schools that receive federal funding are required to investigate a reported rape. (20 U.S.C. § 1681(a); Office for Civil Rights, U.S. Dept. of Educ., Dear Colleague Letter 2011). Additionally schools must take steps to address any potential effects and prevent future harm or retaliation. Schools must aid students in filing a grievance and must publicly outline these procedures. Schools must inform students of their right to file criminal charges and cannot try to deter the student from doing so.
It is important to make sure that your school has a Title IX coordinator and to alert your school of new federal regulations regarding this issue.
On high school campuses, if the victim is under 18, it is mandated that schools contact the police. If a sexual assault or rape is reported to a teacher or administrator, even if the victim is over 18, he or she may still be obligated to contact the police.
Even if the assault occurs off campus, Title IX may still apply. Not only does the victim need to be protected, but the accused as well as other students on campus could be at risk. When high schools ignore the issue of sexual assault and rape, a hostile environment is created for girls. The message is sent to students that there are no consequences for rape. This perpetuates the problem and makes girls reluctant to report an incident of sexual assault or rape.
What Schools Can Do
Make the School’s Policy on Sexual Violence Known: Make sure that the entire school community is aware that sexual violence will not be tolerated, and make sure that all students and faculty are aware of what sexual violence entails.
Have a Protocol: In emotionally charged situations, it is often difficult to think rationally. For this reason it is important to have a protocol in place. To avoid any mistakes and prevent further harm to any students involved, it is best to contact law enforcement immediately.
Education: Both girls and boys need to be taught about sexual assault and rape. All students need to know how to identify, prevent and report such conduct.
Make steps to report sexual violence clear: Students need to feel comfortable reporting incidents of sexual assault and know that sexual assault is never acceptable and certainly not normal. They need to know that they will be taken seriously and that there is nothing to be ashamed of. They must be educated on steps such as reporting the incident and receiving medical attention. Make sure the process of reporting is accessible and that students will feel safe if they report the incident.
Train teachers and administrators: Anyone who comes into contact with children is considered a mandated reporter. Teachers should report any behavior they witness that could potentially escalate into sexual violence, as well as anything a student tells him/her about an incident.
What Students Should Know
Rape and sexual assault are incredibly pervasive in high school and on college campuses. One in four women on a college campus will be sexually assaulted or raped by the time she graduates, and young women in high school and college represent the most vulnerable age group. (Rana Sampson, Acquaintance Rape of College Students, 2002)
It is always a good idea to contact the police immediately. The school will be required to comply with any restraining orders, and the police might help facilitate the process and ensure that the school take the allegations seriously. Also it is important to keep in mind that schools often try students for disciplinary violations and even if a student is expelled for rape, that is not a criminal charge.
To go from here