April 7, 2011
Vice President Joe Biden and Education Secretary Arne Duncan are helping launch an awareness campaign aimed at stopping school-based sexual violence.
"Students across the country deserve the safest possible environment in which to learn. That's why we're taking new steps to help our nation's schools, universities and colleges end the cycle of sexual violence on campus," Biden said ahead of the campaign's debut at the University of New Hampshire-Durham on Monday.
Schools will receive letters and brief outlines of their responsibilities under Title IX, which bans sexual discrimination, harassment and violence.
Last year, the Education Department's Office of Civil Rights received 35 complaints of sexual violence, about two dozen of them at the K-12 level. Department data also show that roughly 20 percent of college females will be victims of an attempted or actual sexual assault, as will about 6 percent of undergraduate males. "Every school would like to believe it is immune from sexual violence, but the facts suggest otherwise," said Duncan.
New Hampshire was selected due to its best practices in educating, preventing and responding to sexual assaults, say officials. The university created the "Bringing in the Bystander" program, which teaches passers-by to safely and effectively intervene to stop such attacks. Other universities have since adopted the program. In addition, the school was one of the first to fund an on-campus crisis center for rape and sexual harassment in 1988, said spokesperson Erika Mantz.