Closing the Risk Gap for Sexual Misconduct
Vol. 17 No. 5
Accidents happen no matter how prepared your campus, faculty and staff, and students are. Sometimes unfortunate events occur despite our efforts to prevent them. However, when the risks are culture-related, such as instances of sexual misconduct, there are many policies schools can implement to change those behaviors.
The first step is awareness. Begin by defining the term "sexual misconduct." USLegal.com defines the term as "actions that include sexual harassment, sexual assault, and any conduct of a sexual nature that is without consent, or has the effect of threatening or intimidating the person against whom such conduct is directed." State laws vary on defining acts that constitute sexual misconduct, and can involve any of the following acts:
- intentional touching without consent;
- exposing genitals under circumstances likely to cause affront or alarm;
- having sexual contact in the presence of a third person or persons under circumstances likely to cause affront or alarm;
- forcing a victim to touch, directly or through clothing, another person’s genitals, breast, groin, thighs, or buttocks;
- vaginal or anal intercourse;
- fellatio or cunnilingus; or
- sexual penetration with an object without consent.
There is a national movement to bring awareness to sexual crimes, and Hollywood isn’t the only industry to feel the impact. Since 2014, The Office of Civil Rights (OCR) at the Department of Education has seen a 500% increase in sexual violence claims.
Children are most vulnerable to sex crimes at home. However, the second most common place where children face sexual violation is at school, according to the Associated Press. The AP analyzed reports from over 17,000 sexual crime reports in K–12 schools from fall 2011 to spring 2015. Of these reports, one in five students was a victim of rape. Additionally, for each adult-to-child sexual crime reported, seven student-to-student sex crimes were filed.
The drastic increase in claims could be from an increase in sexual crime, or it could be in response to efforts bringing heightened awareness to this sensitive topic. Although the “why” isn’t clear, the OCR does suggest, “it is likely more related to the growing visibility of certain issues, such as how schools are handling sexual assault and harassment, racial injustice, and the treatment of transgender students.”
Schools are making huge strides when it comes to protecting students from discrimination, sex crimes, and racism. Training for faculty and staff in these areas has become a priority. Processes and policies for employees, families, and students have found their way into handbooks and school documentation. However, there is always room for improvement. As claims rise, so should our efforts to protect students.
Training is an extremely important tool in reducing your school’s risk. However, it’s often not enough. Add an extra layer of protection with a Sexual Misconduct Endorsement along with your school’s D&O policy. This type of policy covers claims alleging negligent hiring, retention, or supervision; negligent reporting; failure to report an incident of sexual assault, harassment, abuse, or molestation; or other inappropriate conduct of a sexual nature directed against students.
Protect your school from risk by learning effective strategies and using the right tools before an accident occurs.
Additional ISM Resources:
The Source for School Heads Vol. 13 No. 3 Keep Your School Safe From Sexual Assault
The Source for Business and Operations Vol. 6 No. 3 Five Steps in Responding to Sexual Harassment Claims
The Source for Business and Operations Vol. 5 No. 8 Sexual Misconduct on Campus Part I: Defining Sexual Misconduct
The Source for Business and Operations Vol. 5 No. 10 Sexual Misconduct on Campus Part II: Background Checks
The Source for Business and Operations Vol. 6 No. 1 Sexual Misconduct on Campus Part III: Best Practices, Professional Development and Policy
Additional ISM resources for Gold Consortium members:
I&P Vol. 36 No. 3 Addressing Bullying and Sexual Misconduct
I&P Vol. 30 No. 7 Revisit Your School's Policy Concerning Child Sexual Abuse