Now that the summer is in full swing, one of the classic phases of parenting begins for those whose children are entering senior year of high school: the college application discussion and visits.  This summer may be slightly different, however, due to a report released earlier this year by the White House that addressed head-on the issue of college sexual assault

The thought of 20% of college women being sexually assaulted while in college is sobering, especially when you look at the schools on a list released by the Department of Education.  Looking at the list, I bet more than one of the schools would have been a choice any parent would have been thrilled to send their son or daughter to.

My alma mater is on the list.  Institutions where I am, or have been, on the medical school faculty are on the list.  Colleges and universities that are recruiting my son to play football are on the list.  The discussions this summer have become deeper, more involved around decency and consideration of others, not just looking at financial aid packages and the average starting salaries upon graduation.

The White House Task Force to Protect Students from Sexual Assault will hopefully help schools identify the problem, respond more effectively when an assault does occur, and change the culture on college and university campuses concerning sexual assault.  Has it been easy to accuse another student of rape or sexual assault on campus and not pay the price of being the accuser?  Sadly, the answer is often no.  See The New York Times article.

So how does New Hampshire weigh in on this issue, with Dartmouth College on the list?  The Summit on Sexual Assault, a conference occurring this week at Dartmouth, is bringing together many stakeholders to look at the necessary steps needed to improve safety for students on college campuses.  See the NHPR post.

The New Hampshire Coalition Against Domestic and Sexual Violence provides listings and resources for many crisis centers throughout the Granite State as well as 24-hour hotline phone numbers, which can play a huge role in helping a victim of sexual assault.

The CDC has come up with a four-step approach to address the sexual assault problem, which is felt to be a public health issue: define the problem, identify risk and protective factors, develop and test prevention strategies, and assure widespread adoption.

As physicians, ensuring that discussions about sexual assault occur with our patients who may be at risk will allow both women and men to feel safer about disclosing a very painful topic and give them the courage to bring justice to light.  Being a parent is never easy, and picking the right school just got a lot tougher.


Stuart J. Glassman, MD

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As an Ivy alumnus (Yale) I am shocked by their approach to protecting female students. "Hide it and bury it" seems to be the approach to female sexual assault. A concerted alumni outcry is necessary to move the timid and acquiescent administrators. They need their boats rocked.