According to the Center for Disease Control (CDC) nearly 1 in 5 women and 1 in 71 men reported experiencing sexual assault at some time in their lives. Over a third of victims report being assaulted either on a college campus or during their college age years.

The goal of sexual violence prevention is simple—to stop it from happening in the first place. The solutions, however, are just as complex as the problem.

Understanding campus climate issues, such as students’ knowledge about reporting policies and resources for victims, and their perceptions about how their community is addressing the problem are critical pieces of information for improving campus responses.

That is why the Arkansas Legislative Council Subcommittee for Higher Education asked to hear from our state’s top higher education officials about the current climate on our campuses and what is being done at a local level.

The director of the Arkansas Department of Education, Dr. Brett Powell, referred the committee to a recent survey conducted by the association Everfi. Students from over 100 colleges and universities, including students from Arkansas, participated in the survey.

Of the survey respondents nationwide who indicated they had been victims of sexual assault or sexual misconduct but had not reported it, 46% said they thought they would be blamed for what happened.

On a question measuring knowledge of campus resources, 64% reported that they know where to go to get help regarding sexual assault at school. Only 35% said they understood their schools procedures.

This information will help college campuses across the state tailor their prevention and awareness programs. Representatives from the University of Arkansas testified they are expanding their training for freshman enrolling this fall.

During the previous Regular Session, the 90th General Assembly addressed sexual violence prevention with the passage Act 952. This requires that a unit on dating violence be taught in grades 7-12 as part of the health curriculum. The unit will focus on healthy relationships and teach students the warning signs of dating violence and abusive behavior.

We will continue to work with our college campuses and universities to create a culture where our students feel safe and know every resource available to them on campus.

For a list of online resources to prevent sexual violence visit the website for National Sexual Violence Resource Center at www.nsvrc.org.