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Questions to Ask Any School about Sexual Assault

Sexual assault of young people is a chronic and traumatic health issue affecting students across class, race, gender, and ability. 

At I Have The Right To, we believe that all students have the right to an education free from sexual assault, and all parents have the right to know what their child’s school is doing to protect its students. One way to protect these rights is to find out how your school prevents and responds to instances of sexual assault. 

Use the questions below to engage your school in this important conversation. By raising this topic as either a student or parent, you signal to school leaders that you are paying close attention and that you care about building a culture that protects every student. 

Questions to ask any school about sexual assault:

  • What kind of applicant screening and criminal background checks do you require of all faculty, staff, coaches, volunteers, and parents before working with your students? 
  • Do your faculty, administrators, staff, and coaches receive training and education about child sexual assault prevention? Do they receive training about identifying signs of child sexual assault? If not, why? If yes, what training do they receive, and how often?
  • What policies are in place to prevent assault? Do policies limit opportunities for adults to be alone with students? 
  • Are there unsupervised areas where students have access? 
  • What is your school’s reporting policy for sexual and other misconduct? Do you have school emergency contacts who are trained in trauma-informed care available 24/7?
  • What is your process for dealing with reports of misconduct? Is this process widely known by each member of your school community? How do you communicate this process and any updates? 
  • How does the school communicate to the community that it will not tolerate sexual misconduct?
  • What is your policy concerning bullying, harassment, and sexual misconduct, and how do you communicate your expectations about how students treat one another? 
  • Have you taken training to help you recognize, reduce, and respond to misconduct in school? 
  • How do you handle suspicions of misconduct allegations, including child sexual assault?
  • How does your school handle misconduct by employees?
  • How does your school handle misconduct by students?
  • How many reports of sexual misconduct are made each year? (Note: If the number is “zero,” that is a red flag that the school is not forthcoming. If the number is too high, that is a red flag that there is a systemic issue at hand.)
  • Is there a Title IX coordinator on staff? Are they trained in trauma-informed interviewing? What other roles does this person have?

A school’s answers to these questions will give you a sense of the culture at any given school and how leaders think about student safety. 

Red flag responses to questions about sexual assault

Beware! Should a school respond with any of the following responses, take note and press harder. These are unsatisfactory responses and are indications that the school does not have the necessary policies and procedures in place to adequately protect students. If this is the case, reach out to us and we can advise you on next steps.

  • “Our policies are in the handbook.” 
  • “I’m not sure, let me get back to you.” 
  • “We deal with these situations in an honor council or in another disciplinary setting.” 
  • “Sexual assault is not an issue that comes up.” 
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