Perhaps most important, we need to keep saying to anyone out there who has ever been assaulted: you are not alone. We have your back. I’ve got your back.
About Not Alone
NotAlone was launched in connection with the White House Task Force to Protect Students from Sexual Assault. The Task Force was established on January 22, 2014 – and since then, thousands of people have shared their stories and ideas about how best to eliminate sexual assault in schools.
This page includes information for students, schools, and anyone interested in finding resources on how to respond to and prevent sexual assault.
The Second Report of the White House Task Force to Protect Students from Sexual Assault, January 5, 2017
In January, 2014, President Obama and Vice President Biden issued a Presidential Memorandum creating the White House Task Force to Protect Students from Sexual Assault (Task Force). In the nearly three years that the Task Force has been in place, there has been unprecedented attention directed to the issue of sexual assault on campus. Universities and colleges across the Nation are developing, deepening, or re-examining their approaches to preventing and responding to sexual assault. This report documents the progress made by colleges, universities and other organizations to raise awareness, provide support, and improve outcomes.
Not Alone: First Report of the White House Task Force, April 2014
On January 22, 2014, the President established the White House Task Force to Protect Students from Sexual Assault with a mandate to strengthen federal enforcement efforts and provide schools with additional tools to combat sexual assault on their campuses. This document is the first report of the White House Task Force offers a first set of action steps and recommendations.
The Blueprint for Campus Police: Responding to Sexual Assault
A unique collaboration at the University of Texas has produced a science-based, victim-centered blueprint for law enforcement to respond to sexual assault cases. This work, developed by UT Austin’s Institute on Domestic Violence & Sexual Assault with UT System Police has resulted in The Blueprint for Campus Police: Responding to Sexual Assault, a comprehensive guide for campus police officers to better engage with an understand victims as well as improve their handling of sexual assault cases, based on the integration of science, philosophy and protocols.
On September 17, 2015, we released a Resource Guide to support the efforts of students, faculty, administrators, and communities around the country to prevent and improve the response to sexual violence at colleges and universities. This guide includes links to documents, guidance, and tools from the task force and other advocacy groups.
The Clery Act: Section 304 of the Violence Against Women Reauthorization Act of 2013
Enacted in March 2013, Section 304 of the Violence Against Women Reauthorization Act of 2013 amended the Clery Act to mandate extensive “primary prevention and awareness programs” and expanded the scope of this legislation in terms of reporting, response, and prevention education requirements around rape, non-stranger rape, domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault, and stalking.
Title IX Compliance Requirements: Questions and Answers on Title IX and Sexual Violence (2014)
In April 2014, the U.S. Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights (OCR) issued a question-and-answer document to provide additional guidance to federally funded schools about their obligations under Title IX to address sexual violence.
This guidance further clarifies the legal requirements under Title IX articulated in OCR’s 2011 Dear Colleague Letter on Sexual Violence and its 2001 Revised Sexual Harassment Guidance.
Although some examples in this Q&A are applicable only to institutions of higher education, the legal obligations outlined in the letter also apply to elementary and secondary schools.
Dear Colleague Letter and Resource Guide on Title IX Coordinators (2015)
In April 2015, the U.S. Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights (OCR) issued a guidance package emphasizing the responsibility of school districts, colleges, and universities to designate a Title IX coordinators.
This guidance package includes three documents: a Dear Colleague Letter to school districts, colleges, and universities reminding them of their obligation to designate a Title IX coordinator; a letter to Title IX coordinators that provides them with more information about their important role; and a Title IX resource guide that includes an overview of Title IX’s requirements in several key areas, including sex-based harassment.
Retaliation Guidance (2013)
In April 2013, the U.S. Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights (OCR) issued guidance to remind federally funded schools that retaliation is a violation of federal law.
Under federal civil rights laws, including Title IX, it is illegal for a school to retaliate against an individual for speaking out against possible civil rights problems at the school.
The prohibition against retaliation means that if a student, parent, teacher, professor, coach, or other individual complains formally or informally to a school about a potential civil rights violation, such as failure to address sexual violence, or participates in an OCR or school investigation or proceeding, the school is prohibited from retaliating against the individual because of their complaint or participation.
Dear Colleague Letter on Sexual Violence (2011)
In April 2011, the U.S. Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights (OCR) issued a Dear Colleague Letter, providing guidance to schools on their obligations to prevent and address sexual violence under Title IX.
It reiterates that under Title IX, all schools that receive federal funds must take immediate and effective steps to respond to sexual violence.
Although some examples in this letter are applicable only to institutions of higher education, the legal obligations outlined in the letter also apply to elementary and secondary schools.
Revised Sexual Guidance (2001)
The U.S. Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights (OCR) issued guidance in January 2001 on the sexual harassment of students by school employees, other students, or third parties. The guidance discusses in detail schools’ obligations to address the sexual harassment of students under Title IX.
Schools often struggle with balancing a survivor’s confidentiality and fulfilling their obligation to provide a safe educational environment for everyone by holding perpetrators accountable. But a few guiding principles should inform any reporting and confidentiality protocol: namely, confidentiality must give survivors choices and not shield a school from inaction. To the greatest extent possible, the survivor’s wishes should be respected, whether it be for a full investigation – or not.
It’s also true that there’s no one-size-fits-all model of survivor care. There must be options, which means that schools should make it clear up front who at the school must share what information with whom – and the circumstances in which a school may need to override a request for confidentiality and conduct an investigation to protect the greater school community.
And in all cases, whether or not it fully investigates a particular incident, schools must respond. Schools must protect and help survivors reclaim their education, and determine what school-wide, or more targeted, responses may be in order.
To help schools carry out these principles, a sample reporting and confidentiality policy is provided. This is not meant as a policy to “cut and paste,” but rather one to help schools get started tackling this difficult issue. This resource uses higher-education specific language but its general principles also apply at the elementary and secondary school level.
Guide to Drafting a Sexual Assault Policy
Every school must have a policy that prohibits sex discrimination, including sexual harassment and sexual assault, and that policy should be easily accessible and user-friendly. As the Task Force recognizes, there is no one approach that suits every school – but we know that schools struggle to develop policies that are both clear and comprehensive.
To help schools develop or reevaluate their policies we are providing elementary and secondary schools and colleges and universities with checklists for creating a sexual misconduct policy. These lists provide both a suggested process for developing a policy, as well as the key elements schools should consider in drafting one. At the outset and perhaps most importantly, schools should bring all the key stakeholders to the table, which may include parents of elementary and secondary school students, survivors, counselors, Title IX coordinators, concerned students and student groups (e.g., LGBT organizations, students of color, athletes, English language learners, students with disabilities), campus or school security, local law enforcement, and local victim service providers. Effective policies will vary in scope and detail, but an inclusive process must be common to all.
We have not endeavored with these checklists to provide schools with all the answers; again, depending on their size, mission, student body, location, administrative structure, and experience, school communities are best situated to decide for themselves what might work best.
Preventing and Addressing Campus Sexual Misconduct: A Guide for University and College Presidents, Chancellors, and Senior Administrators, White House Task Force to Protect Students from Sexual Assault, January 2017 (PDF)
Four Critical Questions for the College Search, by Valerie Jarrett, October 2015(PDF)
Building Partnerships with Local Rape Crisis Centers: Developing a Memorandum of Understanding, April 2014 (PDF)
Building Partnerships among Law Enforcement Agencies, Colleges and Universities: Developing a Memorandum of Understanding to Prevent and Respond to Sexual Assaults, January 2015 (PDF)
Key Components of Sexual Assault Crisis Intervention/Victim Services Resources, April 2014 (PDF)
Intersection of Title IX and the Clery Act, April 2014 (PDF)
Minimum Training Standards for (click title to download):
Bystander-Focused Prevention of Sexual Violence, Office on Violence Against Women, 2014 (PDF)
Establishing Prevention Programming: Strategic Planning for Campuses, Office on Violence Against Women, 2014 (PDF)
Preventing Sexual Violence on College Campuses: Lessons from Research and Practice, Centers for Disease Prevention and Control, 2014 (PDF)
STOP SV: A Technical Package to Prevent Sexual Violence, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (PDF)
CLERY & TITLE IX REPORTS
The U.S. Department of Education, Office for Civil Rights (OCR), is posting recent resolution letters and agreements with schools on its website. OCR will also make public the schools that are under OCR investigation, including those that involve Title IX sexual violence allegations. To ensure that the most up-to-date information is provided, interested parties should contact OCR headquarters or the closest regional office.