Be Part of the Solution on Campuses

Millions of high school and college students in the United States will head to campus for the first time or return for another year this fall. With increased media attention around sexual violence, many students and parents are thinking about how to cultivate a safe learning and living environment. One of the most effective ways students can do this is by looking out for their friends and others in their broader community.

Students can make a real difference on their campuses by staying aware of those around them, noticing if something seems to be wrong, and learning to step in if they feel comfortable doing so. Bystander intervention is a powerful way that individuals of all ages can look out for each other and help create safe and respectful spaces.

“Campuses should be a place where students can learn and live in a respectful environment,” says Keeli Sorensen, vice president of victim services at RAINN. “It’s up to each of us to help create that environment—as parents you can learn warning signs, how to react in a supportive way if your child discloses to you, and can share information with your high school or college-aged children about safety online. For students themselves, it’s helpful to keep an eye out for those around them, share information about consent, and know how to get help in case they need it.”

It’s important for students to remember to trust their instincts if a situation feels unsafe or uncomfortable and that it’s never okay for someone to pressure them into engaging in sexual activity or to do more than they are comfortable with.

RAINN’s National Sexual Assault Hotline is free, confidential, and available 24/7 for all survivors at 800-656-HOPE and online.rainn.org, y en español: rainn.org/es.

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