Letter: A way to fight sexual assault on campus

First Published      Last Updated Apr 20 2017 05:45 am

In order to address sexual assault on college campuses, prevention efforts have been added to current evidence-based intervention strategies.

Exploring the risk factors for committing sexual assault, research has shown that having male friends who support violence against women is a big risk factor for committing sexual assault. Having male friends who oppose violence against women could be a powerful antidote to rape and sexual assault on college campuses.

An intervention has already been implemented in a few high schools across the U.S. using this framework. MVP, or Mentors in Violence Prevention, matches upperclassmen with freshmen to discuss relationships, drinking, sexual assault and rape. The group talks about various scenarios, such as, "What does it mean to hook up with a drunk girl when you're sober? How about if you see a guy with an extremely drunk girl and he's trying to leave with her, do you just let them leave?"

This prevention strategy confronts these kinds of situations before young men graduate from high school and start college where they may face these situations in real life. Researchers utilizing the MVP program have found a shift in participating student attitudes about sexual assault and intervening in potentially dangerous situations.

Kalani Nelford