Educators and administrators are in a unique position when it comes to helping students who have experienced sexual violence. Most university faculty are mandatory reporters, meaning they have to disclose sexual violence to Title IX as soon as they are made aware of it—whether the student is ready to file a report or not. While it should always be the survivor’s decision when and how to tell their story, a professor or administrator may be legally mandated to file a report, thus taking away the survivor’s power and autonomy.
There is a way for educators and administrators to support their students who have gone through trauma, while still giving them the power to disclose their experiences at their own pace.
The National Education Association has compiled a great wealth of knowledge about supporting students who have experienced trauma. Teaching Tolerance is another good resource, providing information not only on how to help a student disclosing sexual violence but also how to help students struggling in a variety of ways. Follow the links below to read more from each site.
If you’re looking for resources to learn from or share with your students, check out our working bibliography. There’s a vast array of resources that can be searched by topic, medium, and more. From research to podcasts, there’s so much to learn from!
Quick Tips For Educators
- On your syllabus, note that you are a mandatory reporter. Be sure to mention it on the first day of class, too. If students aren’t aware of your status as a non-confidential reporter, they might disclose something without intending to—in an essay, an e-mail, face to face, or otherwise—and be placed in an uncomfortable situation. By addressing your own responsibility, you are giving power to your students when and how to disclose to you should they ever want to, and developing a level of trust there.
- While you’re at it, it’s not a bad idea to include a brief description of the school’s general policies in your syllabus as well, and walk students through the options they have to ask for help. Most students won’t research this information for themselves, so don’t be afraid to serve as a guide!
- Provide warning for any material in class that might be sensitive or upsetting for students. Whether it has to do with sexual violence or another potentially triggering topic, it’s always good to provide students with the foreknowledge—and give them the opportunity to complete an alternate assignment if they need to. Statistics show that it’s a good idea to assume there will always be a survivor in the room. Keep that in mind.
- Listen and support your students. Stay educated and up to date not only on policies but on news in the media and more. Be an informed and empathetic listener so that you can support your students as well as possible.
- Share your knowledge with your colleagues!
Center for Institutional Courage
Institutional Betrayal: when an institution causes harm to people who depend on it.
The Center for Institutional Courage seeks to raise awareness about the ways in which institutions can betray and harm their populations. The Center also advocates for institutional courage, a term coined by its founder, Dr. Jennifer Freyd.
To learn more about institutional courage and the ways in which an institution—and its members—can commit to moral, healthy actions, visit the Center’s website.