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What Parents Should Know About Campus Sexual Assault

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By Maria Papadouris, Leda Health 

As students head off to college, either as first-year or returning students, they’re entering a world of unparalleled diversity, freedom, and opportunity. They expect and deserve to feel safe as they explore all their campus has to offer.

Unfortunately, sexual assault remains a prevalent issue in college communities. We at Leda Health are highlighting college sexual assault statistics, information on what’s known as the “Red Zone,” and what resources are available for students on campus.

Knowledge is power, and your can support your student in having a safer college experience.

How Common Is Campus Sexual Assault?

In a recent survey, 13% of college students reported experiencing rape or sexual assault — a significant portion of the student body.

Campus sexual assault is especially common for those of intersecting identities. For instance, nearly a third of female undergraduates experience sexual assault or unwanted sexual contact during college. Women on college campuses are twice as likely to be sexually assaulted than robbed. And 23% of TGQN (transgender, genderqueer, non-conforming) college students are sexually assaulted.

While talking about sexual assault, gender shouldn’t be separated from race and other identities. It’s a fact that Black and Brown individuals are at higher risk of experiencing sexual assault, meaning that conversations about sexual assault on campus should center the safety of Black and Brown students in particular.

Sexual assault can happen to anyone and at any time throughout the school year, but it’s especially frequent in what’s known as the Red Zone.

What Is the Red Zone?

The Red Zone refers to the time between the start of fall semester and Thanksgiving break. Rates of sexual assault on campus are highest this time of year, with over 50% of campus sexual assaults happening in this window.

The Red Zone coincides with events like semester kick-off parties, fraternity and sorority rush events, Homecoming, and Halloween, where large numbers of students gather socially and where the likelihood of sexual violence can increase. New college students are especially vulnerable.

There are plenty of tips available to help students navigate the Red Zone safely and be safer on campus throughout the year. These include:

  • Take a detailed tour of campus before the semester starts so you always know where you are and how to get where you want to go next.
  • Walk with a friend at all times of day and particularly at night (no matter what the weather!).
  • Discuss boundaries in social groups.

It’s also important to be familiar with campus resources relating to health, safety, Title IX compliance, victim advocacy, and more.

How Do Colleges Support Survivors?

In the United States, colleges are required to adhere to federal Title IX regulations, which help ensure that investigations into sexual violence cases are properly handled. All campuses must have a trained Title IX coordinator available to manage these cases, and ideally implement programming to raise awareness about students’ rights under Title IX. You should be able to easily locate information about your student's school's policies and procedures related to Title IX compliance by Googling the name of the school along with "Title IX."

Beyond Title IX, college staff and faculty are encouraged to support survivors on campus. Options such as training programs, frequent discussions about mental health, and mentoring programs may be available to facilitate a more student-conscious and accepting environment where sexual assault is concerned.

Most colleges also have campus security on-site, who respond to and deter violence and other unwanted behavior on school premises. It's helpful to remind your student to familiarize themselves with their school’s campus security.

How Leda Can Help

Leda Health’s team of survivors, advocates, nurses, and lawyers build trauma-informed tools to help campuses address sexual assault with prevention and post-care. Leda partners with colleges, Greek life, and student organizations to help break cycles of violence on campus with conversation, education, and resources.

Leda’s tools are built for and by survivors: Early Evidence Kits for DNA collection, trauma-informed STI testing kits, a virtual Care Team available 24/7, post-care services, educational workshops, and a range of holistic Healing Circles.

Leda’s mission is to help stop the cycle of sexual violence, and they partner with campuses to address students' needs head on.

Learn more about Leda Health >

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