Involving Parents in Sexual Assault Prevention

Involving families in the campus discussions about preventing sexual violence is necessary. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s publication Preventing sexual violence on college campuses: Lessons from research and practice (2014) mentions as a principle of effective prevention, “Build on or support positive relationships: Prevention approaches that build on or foster positive relationships between students and their peers, families or communities may have better outcomes.”

Maria Testa’s study at University of Buffalo proved that “Parent Based Intervention, either standard or enhanced, was associated with lower incidence of incapacitated rape in the first year of college relative to controls” (Testa, 2010). That study was based on Rob Turrisi’s research at Penn State on involving parents in reducing alcohol abuse on campus.

The parent and family programs in higher education may do the following:

  • Use your parent board (parent council, parent advisory board) or parent volunteers as focus groups to listen and assess your parent and family needs and questions regarding Title IX issues.
  • Use your publications, electronic or printed, to address sexual violence prevention efforts and offer advice to parents on how to talk with their students about the topic.
  • Include Title IX topics in your parent and family handbook distributed to new families. The article must mention:
    • Your institution’s policies prohibiting discriminatory harassment, relationship violence and sexual misconduct (for complaints against students as well as other members of your institution’s community, such as faculty).
    • Where online and on campus your students can find resources and contact information for your Title IX Coordinator.
    • Your institution’s student programs and services in sexual violence prevention.
    • Your advice to parents and families on how to speak with their students about the sensitive topic of sexual violence, the meaning of consent, the bystander intervention, and the ways families can be engaged on your campus.
  • Inform families about your sexual violence prevention efforts with students during the parent and family orientation program. Offer families tips on how to talk with their students about those difficult topics.


Reed College: Sexual Assault Prevention and Response FAQs

University of Minnesota: At their parent site, at almost every page, such as their mission page, University of Minnesota has six links in the right column under Helpful Sites. One among them is Violence Prevention and Response leading to The Aurora Center for Advocacy & Prevention. What is remarkable is that right in the opening paragraph, families are mentioned.

Hofstra University: How parents can talk with their students about sexual violence: p. 43 of Hofstra University Parent and Family Handbook.

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