Continued . . .
Pilgrim & Associates’ recent work performing a climate assessment on the issues of campus sexual violence at a publicly-funded institution of higher-education reinforces the frequently cited reasons for resistance to addressing this intimate and sensitive issue. Reasons often cited by individuals unwilling to report incidents of sexual violence include confusion; lack of clarity/certainty; fear of incorrectly interpreting an observed suspicious interaction; feeling ashamed; feeling partially responsible/guilty; not wanting to “intrude” into another person’s relationship/situation; fear of being blamed; fear of not being believed; fear of retaliation; fear of being labeled a “snitch”; fear that others don’t deem situation important; fear of getting someone in trouble and more. Needless to say, volumes could be written about each of the quoted reasons for avoiding involvement in or reporting of sexual assault incidents. However, reading the above list of reasons should be enough to cause you, the reader, to raise your consciousness and reevaluate your prior responses to sexual violence.
In conclusion, we wish to highlight some truths, beliefs, recommendations, and “call to action” for society at large to rally against sexual violence – regardless of whether the victim is a female or male.
 We all have a responsibility to reach out and help those who are being victimized, if only because the same thing might happen or may have already happened to us or someone that we love or care about.
 We should undertake focused social and behavioral studies on the basic, low level contributing factors to sexual violence, as a counter to implementing reactionary programs and policies after incidents occur.
 We should utilize credible information gathered from focused social and behavioral studies on the basic, low level contributing factors to sexual violence in order to design more effective prevention programs administered by individuals to whom youth can relate in age, socio-economic background, and ethnic culture.
 Institutions – private and public – have a responsibility to make it “comfortable” and easy for bystanders and/or victims to report sexual violence and afford access to non-judgmental and immediate assistance.
 Those voters, lobbyists, social activists, intellectuals, and politicians sufficiently motivated to write laws and regulations against sexual violence, should include a diverse array of constituents impacted by this issue in their policy and drafting group, namely young women and men attending high school and college, LGBT young adults, ethnic and national minorities with disparate social and religious cultures than the dominant Judeo-Christian American model, high school teachers, graduate teaching students and university faculty members, and youth and college athletic coaches.
 Those voters, lobbyists, social activists, intellectuals, and politicians sufficiently motivated to write laws and regulations against sexual violence, should monitor implementation of said laws and regulations to ensure that they have a direct relationship to implementing effective programs that reduce incidents of sexual violence.
 The Department of Justice should expand existing Title IX climate survey directives to ensure that entire student bodies, staff, and faculty are being included to create a credible, comprehensive, information-gathering process resulting in an accurate measure of sexual violence threats and necessary preventive and post-incident responses.
 We need to ensure that accusers and alleged perpetrators are both treated fairly and that rushes to judgment do not creep into disciplinary or criminal procedures.
 We need to ensure that schools, colleges, and universities revamp their disciplinary procedures for dealing with sexual violence to eliminate confusion, promote clarity and understanding of the process, and utilize both persons experienced in and/or appropriately trained to handle sexual violence, including independent and objective organization representatives outside of the school’s administration and faculty.
 We need to ensure access to legal advice and counsel, regardless of economic status, for all persons involved in sexual violence incidents.
The above suggestions simply touch the surface of what may be needed and what is possible. There are many programs, practices, techniques, and systems that can be put in place to assess, minimize, identify, eliminate, and/or discipline those involved in sexual violence. Pilgrim & Associates is available to assess, identify, and implement solutions for your organization in this sensitive arena of sexual violence.

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