There following information is adapted from College Parents Matter; you can access the full resource here.
We encourage you to talk with your student(s) about their understanding of and questions about sexual misconduct on campus. You might find it hard or uncomfortable to talk with your studnet about sex, much less sexual misconduct. Like many families of college students, it is probably on your mind, and it is important for your student to think about it too.
What is sexual misconduct?
The simplest way of describing it is any unwanted sexual touching or activity. Sexual assault is a broader term than rape. Examples include when someone tries to rape, forces someone to do a sexual act, or touches someone in a sexual way when they don’t want to be touched. Sexual assault is a crime and an act of violence, not a sexual misunderstanding. It can happen to anyone regardless of gender, age, race, or sexual orientation. The Office of Civil Rights and Sexual Misconduct says," Sexual misconduct includes sexual harassment, sexual assault, relationship abuse, domestic/dating violence and stalking. This includes such conduct occurring via email, texting, and other electronic means. This applies to conduct occurring in the workplace, and outside the workplace, disclosed to you by peers, colleagues, students, and staff."
How do I talk to my student?
- Start by asking open-ended questions rather than yes/no questions. Doing this is a sign that you want to talk and not just lecture. It is a good way to show that you care about the opinions and experiences of your student.
- It helps to know what your student thinks about this topic. It could be that they never thought about it at all. Or, it could be that they thought about it a lot, or maybe even helped a friend deal with an assault.
- You can help empower your student by talking about resources. This will prompt your student to think about what to do if they or a friend experience a sexual assault. Try some of the following:
“What are some important numbers, apps, or resources that would be helpful to have on hand when you go out?”
“If you or someone you know were sexually assaulted, what would you do?”
“What are the health or counseling services offered on your campus?”
“Every campus has something called a Title IX (Title Nine) office. What do you know about the one on your campus?”
It is now a law that colleges have to provide education about sexual assault prevention resources and reporting options through a Title IX office. If your student tells you that they or a friend experienced a sexual assault and they wish to report it, they can contact the Office of Civil Rights and Sexual Misconduct.
Who can my student report to?
All university staff and faculty are considered mandatory reporters (non-confidential), meaning they must submit a report of the incident to the Title IX Coordinator. University Chaplains and CARE to Stop Violence are confidential resources on campus; they are not required to report incidents of sexual misconduct. All staff and faculty will refer students to these confidential resources for on-going support and students may decide if they would like to receive assistance.
On Campus Resources:
Office of Civil Rights and Sexual Misconduct
CARE to Stop Violence
Off Campus Resources:
Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network
Maryland Coalition Against Sexual Assault
Sexual Assault Legal Institute
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