AttorneyGeneralReport1002

Bystander intervention is one of the most effective ways to reduce sexual assaults on Maryland’s higher education campuses, according to a new report prepared by the Maryland attorney general’s office.

Through the implementation of best practices detailed in the report, it is hoped that more survivors will step forward to report sexual assault, and that the number of assaults will be reduced.

According to the report, titled “Doing More: Reducing Sexual Misconduct at Maryland’s Colleges and Universities,” one in five women and one in sixteen men are sexually assaulted during their college years. Nationally, only 13 percent of rape survivors report the assault, making it more difficult for authorities to adequately address the problem.

“Over time we want to have a process in place, put in through these best policies and practices, where students are comfortable reporting cases of sexual assaults on campuses,” Attorney General Doug Gansler said at a press conference on the University of Maryland, College Park campus announcing the report.

The best practice most stressed at the press conference, held on Nov. 13, was bystander intervention, “one of the most effective ways of dealing with this issue,” said Gansler. Bystander intervention involves “somebody seeing something that just doesn’t look right, and probably isn’t right, and getting themselves involved,” he added.

An example of such involvement might be making sure that someone who has become inebriated at a party has escorts home who will ensure his or her safe arrival. Gansler stressed the need for a cultural change on college campuses akin to the movement in the 1990s to make designated drivers a normal aspect of social life, a shift which has helped reduce drunk driving fatalities among young persons.


ralejandro@afro.com