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February 6, 2017

In a chilling account, The San Francisco Chronicle reported Sunday on an alleged rape of a high school senior and subsequent mishandling of her case by school officials in a wealthy Bay Area district. The front-page story, Wild parties, an alleged rape, and a high school’s troubling response draws upon the expertise of the national nonprofit Stop Sexual Assault in Schools (SSAIS).

In the article, SSAIS executive director, Esther Warkov, points out that while the public is more aware of how colleges fail to respond appropriately to campus sexual violence, few realize that the issue is equally prevalent in elementary and secondary schools. “There is an awareness that the problem exists in college, but the public still has not grasped that there’s an epidemic of sexual harassment and assault in K-12 schools. The school environment is the student’s entire world at that point in their life, and when you disrupt that, it can be devastating.”

The Chronicle report also cites Equal Rights Advocates attorney Rebecca Peterson-Fisher, one of several Title IX experts featured in the SSAIS educational video “Sexual Harassment: Not in Our School!” This free video and companion materials help K-12 parents, middle and high school students, schools, and community organizations understand gender equality in education, students’ protections under Title IX, and practical steps families can take to make their schools safe places to learn.

The respected education journal EdSource notes that the video “informs students that they have a legal right to attend a school where nobody is harassed because of their gender.” Reporter Jane Adams quotes several San Francisco Bay area students who express fears about the recent uptick in sexual harassment and gender bias in their schools after the November election.

SSAIS advisory board member, attorney Karen Truszkowski, also contributed her expertise to the Chronicle article. She debunks the Los Altos School District’s claim that no investigation was necessary to determine if there were retaliation against the alleged rape victim.

SSAIS has received national recognition in the Washington Post and other media for spearheading the movement to address sexual assault in K-12 schools, the breeding ground for college sexual violence.