Coming from your child, those words could mean literally anything. While they usually are not a preamble to good news, it does mean is that your child is opening up to you about something significant in their lives. Whether it’s ultimately good news (“I’m gay,” “I got a great job but it’s 3,000 miles away,”), challenging (“I’m pregnant,” “I’ve been suspended”) or bad (“I flunked out/been expelled from school”), the news that a child was sexually assaulted or abused by a partner—or accused of such offenses--brings out all the “stuff” that we all carry with us: childhood trauma, sex and gender role stereotypes, personal values, parental expectations and fears.
What can parents do about this issue, whether in K-12 or higher education? How can they best support their children who are dealing with the aftermath of sexual misconduct?* Can they do anything about it before their children even set foot on a college campus? What can students do to empower themselves and support their friends? So many questions. I hope to address these, and many other issues related to sexual misconduct on campus from a range of perspectives: parents, college administrators, and students. The focus here is on higher education, although many of these concerns will be relevant to the K-12 space.
I bring decades of my own experience in this work, I plan to share the wisdom and experience of others whose work I admire. I hope these missives are useful for you and your circle of family and friends.
If you have questions about specific issues, I invite you to email me. I will attempt to address them in a future post.
* Sexual misconduct is a general term that refers to rape, other forms of penetration, groping and grabbing of sexual parts over or under clothing, sexual harassment (acts that are “severe, pervasive or objectively offensive” which create a hostile climate based on sex or gender. In this case we’re addressing incidents that occur in educational settings, which are either prohibited by Title IX or individual school’s student codes of conduct.