Addressing Sexual Violence with Your Student

Transitioning your child to college is a rewarding privilege for everyone involved. While this is a moment of joy, we know that it also carries with it concerns over safety. Most loved ones have questions regarding sexual violence prevention and response at the University of Kansas. We are here to answer those questions and provide some tools to help you have vital conversations with your student.

Topics to Talk to your Jayhawk About

Consent is simple: it’s permission.  At KU, it is an expectation that students will gain affirmative consent before engaging in any sexual activity. 

Talk with your student about the expectations you have had in the past for them to ask for permission to do things, such as spending the night with friends, taking money from your wallet, or borrowing the family car. Help your student see the importance of using this skill when engaging in any type of sexual activity, including online communication.

Remember: consent is communicated verbally, ongoing throughout any activity, mutually given by everyone involved, and enthusiastically given, free of fear or incapacitation.

Looking out for each other is a Jayhawk value, and probably a value you have shared with your student already! Jayhawks are expected to be active bystanders. This means that when they recognize harmful situations, they intervene in the safest possible way. Safe intervention may mean helping a friend find a safe way home, speaking out against harmful language, or asking for help from an authority figure when they see someone is in trouble. Talk to your student about ways they might utilize bystander intervention during their time at KU.

Keys to being an active bystander are:

Identify ways to overcome barriers to intervention.

  • "Why might you hesitate to speak up if you hear someone being harassed, or if a friend of yours is crossing someone's boundary? Why might it be hard or scary to speak up?"

Intervene safely. 

KU uses the 3 Ds of Bystander Intervention: Direct, Distract, and Delegate

  • "What are some ways you might directly intervene in a worrying or unsafe situation?" (Examples: saying "Hey, that's not cool" when they hear harassment, or asking someone who looks uncomfortable if they are okay.)
  • "If you didn't feel comfortable addressing the problem in the moment, how could you distract from or diffuse the situation to help keep people safe? (Examples: changing the subject, making an excuse to leave)
  • "If you felt like you couldn't handle the situation by yourself, how could you delegate or ask for help?" (Examples: asking friends to go with you to check on someone, calling campus police or emergency medical services, letting your Resident Advisor know your concerns)

Follow Up if needed.

  • "If you see someone's boundaries get crossed, how could you follow up afterward?" (Examples: asking a friend if they are okay or need help finding a safe way home, telling a friend that it's not okay to make homophobic jokes.)

Supporting Jayhawks Who Have Experienced Harm

No student should ever experience any type of sexual violence.

Sadly, 1 in 5 female, 1 in 16 male, and 1 in 2 transgender students are sexually assaulted while in college, (NSVRC). Some students also experience other forms of sexual violence, such as sexual harassment or stalking.

If your student tells you they have been harmed, we are here to care for them and to support you as their loved one.

If you are not sure where to start, start by believing. Try phrases like:

  • “I believe you.”

  • “It wasn’t your fault.”

  • “How can I help?”

  • “Thank you for trusting me with this.”

There are on campus, local, and national resources available to support you and your student.

Please reach out to one of the resources listed on our resources page. You don’t have to go through this alone.