Colleges Need to Support Male Victims of Sexual Violence, Speaker Says

October 07, 2012

As colleges continue to wrestle with how best to respond to incidents of sexual assault, some experts say colleges should develop programs that cover all victims of sexual violence, including men.

At a conference held on Friday by the Clery Center for Security on Campus, professionals in the field discussed how universities could improve both campus responses to victims and awareness of campus violence.

One way is to reach out to male victims of sexual assault, suggested Nancy Chi Cantalupo, a fellow at Temple University's law school.

Between 6 and 11 percent of reported sexual-assault cases involve male victims, according to the U.S. Department of Justice. However, Ms. Cantalupo, who studies peer sexual harassment and sexual violence in education, said data on male victims are unreliable because most do not report the assaults. Therefore, campuses should establish services that support male victims, she said.

Ms. Cantalupo also urged universities to develop programs that show male students how to prevent their male and female peers from being assaulted.

In 2011 The Journal of Men's Studies found that men were less likely to intervene when they saw a potential assault in progress because they worried about how other men might perceive them. Ms. Cantalupo argued that if universities created "bystander intervention programs," they could have a "real transformative effect." She cited as an example of such a program the nonprofit group Men Can Stop Rape, which is based in Washington, D.C.

"They know it's happening, they may see it happening—they can prevent it," Ms. Cantalupo said. "We can teach what men can do when in a bystander position."