Panel on how to talk to your child about safety on college campuses

Last month, our Director of Prevention Programs, Jessica Teperow, moderated a panel on how to talk to your child about safety on college campuses. The conversation, which was recorded and produced by the Needham Cable Channel, included panelists from Olin, Babson, and Lasell Colleges who work on their respective campuses to support survivors and prevent intimate partner violence. The program was organized by the Needham High School Take Back the Night club as a follow up to a senior class assembly in mid-April which included a panel of student activists from Lasell college, Brandeis, and Bentley University. For the past several years, REACH has partnered with the Needham Domestic Violence Action Committee and the Take Back the Night club to facilitate these conversations annually.

As conversations about sexual assault on college campuses have become more prevalent in the media, many parents have felt increasingly concerned about their own child’s safety as they begin to think about life after high school. While intimate partner violence has always been a devastating and pervasive problem impacting college and universities, the recent attention in the media has left many feeling worried and overwhelmed.

During the panel, we discussed what individual faculty and staff members are mandated to report disclosures to their Title IX director, and what that process can look like for a survivor. If schools are able to create systems that feel accessible and trauma-informed for students, the number of reported assaults may go up before it goes back down. While parents and students might feel hesitant about a school with a higher number of assaults, that number could reflect that the school has created an environment where students feel safe reporting. Panelists also highlighted the importance of parents and other adults having conversations early and often about healthy relationships, boundaries, being an active bystander, and about the existence of on-campus resources.

We are grateful to the Needham Cable Channel, the Needham Domestic Violence Action Committee, the co-chairs of the Needham High School Take Back the Night club, and Deb Jacob. Special thanks to our amazing panelists for sharing their wisdom with us: Rame Hanna, Karin Raye, and Ashleigh Hala.