My previous post raised awareness about an Immediate Crisis Webpage for students who have been victims of sexual violence. The Rock Ethics Institute also features an Anti-Sexual Misconduct Toolkit for educators. This toolkit of online resources is specifically designed so that educators in the Penn State Community can incorporate the timely issues of sexual misconduct and violence into classroom discussions. Informational and multimedia resources with statistical data on victims, perpetrators, and the different types of sexual assault affirm the frequency and manner of sexual violence.
Through the toolkit, educators can easily access information on a number of critical issues involved in sexual violence, such as alcohol and consent, primary prevention, bystander intervention, and dangerous myths about sexual violence. Links to classroom activities include a brief description of how they can be used to support class discussion, self-reflection, and learning. The toolkit was created by current and former students of the PRISM group (Penn Staters Researching Interventions for Social Misconduct) under the direction of Andrew Peck, Senior Lecturer and Associate Director of Undergraduate Studies in Psychology, and with additional consultation by the Ethics and Sexual Violence Initiative at the Rock Ethics Institute. Initial content decisions for the toolkit were made by Jordanna Lembo (class of 2014), Celia Pagano (class of 2013), Kristin Karg (class of 2013), and Andrew Peck (Ph.D.). The ongoing research of students in the PRISM group helps determine which messages are most critical for different sets of people, which terms most effectively engage learning, and how class discussions can impact student attitudes.
Input from students in the PRISM group informs the presentation recommendations, which offer educators a wealth of advice for how to sensitively incorporate the multi-faceted issues of sexual misconduct and violence into the college classroom. Most importantly, the recommendations emphasize the relational aspect of sexual violence: it is likely a number of students in the class may know or be victims of sexual violence. Educators may also encounter ignorant perpetrators who are not yet aware they have engaged in sexual misconduct or violence. For this reason, it is important to present students with contact information for campus support resources at the end of class. Educators can consult the Toolkit or the Immediate Crisis Webpage for this information.
The recommendation to make participation in discussion voluntary is sensitive to the needs of students who have been victims of sexual violence and may find the material to be triggering. Along these lines, the toolkit includes a caution warning indicating some content may cause intense feelings and/or emotions in a survivor of sexual violence. The warning is meant to prevent someone who may potentially have a strong or harmful emotional response, such as post-traumatic flashbacks, from encountering the content uninformed. Intense and potentially damaging responses are referred to as “being triggered” and caution warnings allow the viewer to decide whether or not it is appropriate for them to view the content. The caution warnings indicate to educators that some content has the potential to cause complex thoughts and emotions, flashbacks, and /or exacerbate post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) for a survivor of sexual violence.
Thank you for taking the time to learn about this important new pedagogical resource. I greatly appreciate your support in passing information about the toolkit to educators or anyone who may find it of interest.
The next post in my blog series will consider a number of myths about sexual violence and counteract them with facts. Learning to question myths can help us become more critical thinkers, empowering us to educate others in our community about sexual violence.