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Resources to Reduce and Respond to Sexual Violence in Schools

Sexual Violence

The Wisconsin Department of Health Services defines sexual violence as a verbal and/or physical act that breaks a person's trust and safety and is sexual in nature. Behaviors range from sexual harassment to unwanted fondling to forced penetration. All are done without consent. 

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Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972

  • Definition- The United States Department of Education outlines that Title IX protects students, employees, applicants for admission and employment, and other persons from all forms of sex discrimination, including discrimination based on gender identity or failure to conform to stereotypical notions of masculinity or femininity. All students (as well as other persons) at recipient institutions are protected by Title IX—regardless of their sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, part- or full-time status, disability, race, or national origin—in all aspects of a recipient’s educational programs and activities.

Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972 and Sex-Based Harassment

Learn more about your responsibilities related to Title IX from the Title IX Resource Guide.

  • Title IX prohibits sex-based harassment by peers, employees, or third parties that is sufficiently serious to deny or limit a student’s ability to participate in or benefit from the recipient’s education programs and activities (i.e., creates a hostile environment).

    • When a recipient knows or reasonably should know of possible sex-based harassment, it must take immediate and appropriate steps to investigate or otherwise determine what occurred.

    • If an investigation reveals that the harassment created a hostile environment, the recipient must take prompt and effective steps reasonably calculated to end the harassment, eliminate the hostile environment, prevent the harassment from recurring, and, as appropriate, remedy its effects.

    • Title IX prohibits several types of sex-based harassment:

      • unwelcome conduct of a sexual nature

      • unwelcome sexual advances

      • requests for sexual favors

      • other verbal, nonverbal, or physical conduct of a sexual nature

      • Sexual violence

        • physical sexual acts perpetrated against a person’s will or where a person is incapable of giving consent (e.g., due to the student’s age or use of drugs or alcohol, or because an intellectual or other disability prevents the student from having the capacity to give consent)

        • rape, sexual assault, sexual battery, sexual abuse, and sexual coercion

      • Gender-based harassment

        • unwelcome conduct based on an individual’s actual or perceived sex, gender identity or nonconformity with sex stereotypes, and not necessarily involving conduct of a sexual nature.

      • Verbal acts and name-calling, as well as nonverbal behavior, such as graphic and written statements, or conduct that is physically threatening, harmful, or humiliating.

School District Responsibilities

  • Designate a Title IX Coordinator
    • They must coordinate efforts to comply with and carry out responsibilities under Title IX.
    • This position cannot be left vacant; it must be filled at all times.
    • They must be appropriately trained
    • The district must notify all students and employees of Coordinator’s contact information
  • Title IX’s Administrative Requirements
    • Ensure an environment for students and employees that is free from unlawful sex discrimination in all aspects of the educational experience, including academics, extracurricular activities, and athletics.
    • Establish a system for the prompt and equitable resolution of complaints
    • Ensure that members of the school community are aware of their rights under Title IX, including how to file a complaint
    • Publish a notice
      • A statement that it does not discriminate on the basis of sex in the education programs or activities it operates and that it is required by Title IX not to discriminate in such a manner. The notice must also state that questions regarding Title IX may be referred to the recipient’s Title IX coordinator or to OCR.

Additional Title IX Guidance

The U.S. Department of Education withdrew the April 4, 2011, Dear Colleague letter on sexual harassment and sexual violence and the accompanying fact sheets and released new interim guidance on Sept 22, 2017.

This new guidance details responsibilities of schools specifically addressing

  • A school’s responsibility to investigate and respond appropriately to incidents of sexual misconduct when the school knows or reasonably should know about such conduct, regardless of whether or not a student files a complaint.

  • Interim measures that may be appropriate prior to or during an investigation

  • Criteria that the Office for Civil Rights uses to determine if grievance procedures are prompt and equitable

  • What constitutes an “equitable” investigation

  • Appropriate evidentiary standards

  • A school’s obligation regarding appeals and notifications to parties of the outcomes of disciplinary proceedings

School District Sexual Misconduct Policies

Considerations for School District Sexual Misconduct Policies was issued In September 2016, by the White House Task Force to Protect Students from Sexual Assault. This document considers a variety of topics to assist districts in the creation of a sexual misconduct policy.

Gender-Based School Violence

According to the ACLU, most generally, gender-based violence and harassment are behaviors that are committed because of a person’s gender or sex. They can be verbal, physical, or media-based in nature; and they occur in both male-to-female and female-to-male dynamics. While it is a fact that females are most often the targets of gender-based violence or harassment, we must not discount reports coming from male targets and recognize that societal norms and/or stigma may cause female-to-male incidents to go unreported.

Examples that may constitute gender-based violence or harassment include situations where someone:

  • follows you around, always wants to know where you are and who you are with, or stalks you

  • pressures you to perform sexual acts

  • touches you sexually against your will

  • forces you to have sex

  • interferes with your birth control

  • verbally abuses you using anti-gay or sex-based insults

  • sends you repeated and unwanted texts, IMs, online messages, and/or phone calls that harass you

  • hits, punches, kicks, slaps, or chokes you

  • verbally or physically threatens you 

Complaints on Title IX

The primary enforcement body for Title IX is the US DOE’s Office of Civil Rights, and the specific office that handles Wisconsin complaints is located in Chicago.

Get Trained in Prevention

  • Safe Place to Learn- Free online training program.

    • From the National Center on Safe Supportive Learning Environments, funded by the U.S. Department of Education’s Office of Safe and Healthy Students, this program includes guidance for administrators, e-learning modules for school staff, a webinar discussion guide, a coordinated response team planning guide, a trauma sensitivity training module, in addition to other resources.

  • Policies and Procedures Training – Prevent Child Abuse at School - Free in-person training

    • Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin has training for School District policies and procedures to protect youth from being sexually abused at school or participating in youth programming. This program includes a 3-hour training and ongoing technical assistance to help schools and organizations create a culture where issues of child sexual abuse and prevention efforts are discussed and addressed. Contact Abby Kibar: 

  • Stewards of Children Training – Teach Adults to Prevent, Recognize, and Respond to Child Sexual Abuse - Free in-person training

    • Through a grant from the Child Abuse and Neglect Prevention Board, Awareness to Action (A2A) is able to provide Stewards of Children™ trainings at no cost to area school districts. Stewards of Children™ is a 2-hour training focused on teaching adults how to prevent, recognize and respond to child sexual abuse. Contact Mary Kleman:

  • Stewards of Children Training - online for a fee

Components of a Robust Prevention Program

  1. Collaboration with local Sexual Assault Service Provider (SASP)

  2. General Sexual Violence Prevention Resources

  3. Understand and Implement Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972

  4. Understand Adult Responsibility to Keep Kids Safe

  5. Protective Behaviors Training and Curriculum

  6. Human Growth and Development

  7. Teen Dating Violence

  8. Addressing online risks


9. Human Sex Trafficking Prevention

10. Physical School Safety

11. Build Protective Factors and Resilience

12. Strong Pupil Non-Discrimination Program and Response

13. Mandated Reporting Training

14. Collect and Utilize Data

15. Skills-Based Health Education

16. Public Awareness Campaign

17. Anti-offender Programs

18. Post-incident response


1. Connect with local Sexual Assault Service Provider (SASP)

  • Each community has a sexual assault service provider who can provide trainings, resources, and consultation related to the prevention and response of sexual violence and gender-based discrimination. Directory of Sexual Assault Service Providers from the Wisconsin Coalition Against Sexual Assault (WCASA):

2. General Sexual Violence Prevention Resources

3. Understand and Implement Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972

Understanding the rights and responsibilities of schools and students related to Title IX protections, including the role of the district Title IX coordinator and obligation to investigate even if law enforcement is also investigating

4. Adult Responsibility to Keep Kids Safe

Training for adults on their responsibility to keep kids safe, including recognizing and responding to grooming behaviors in other adults, recognizing and responding to children in unsafe situations and relationships, managing safe physical environments

Policy and Procedure Training for Preventing Child Sexual Abuse in Schools

  • Free in-person training from Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin on how to enhance policies and procedures to protect youth from being sexually abused while they are at school or participating in youth programming: contact Abby Kibar

5. Protective Behaviors Training and Curriculum

Use an evidence-informed curriculum at the elementary level for protective behaviors, including understanding secrets versus surprises, safe and unsafe touch, how to get help, assertiveness, boundaries and limit setting

6. Human Growth and Development

Implement a comprehensive inclusive human growth and development curriculum that includes skill-based lessons on consent, sexual identity, and gender expression

7. Teen Dating Violence

Instruction for students on teen dating violence including what it is, examples of what it looks like, power and control dynamics, consent, healthy relationships, recognizing and halting destructive behaviors, boundaries and limit setting, how to get help, how to get help for a friend, how to get help for your child/student.

8. Addressing Online Risks

  • Safety online- sexting, negative social media, meeting up with individuals met online

9. Sex Trafficking Prevention

10. Physical School Safety

11. Build Protective Factors

12. Strong Pupil Non-Discrimination Program and Response


13. Mandated Reporting Training

14. Data

15. Skills-Based Health Education

  • Health class instruction that includes discussion and skills related to sexual violence and gender-based harassment, assault, and abuse (DPI’s Resources)

16. Public Awareness Campaign

17. Anti-offender Programs

18. Post-incident response

The Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction (DPI) does not endorse any specific companies or materials, and the included resources are by no means the only materials available. This list is provided to encourage schools to consider their resources and efforts in the following areas as a way to approach reducing and responding to sexual violence in schools.

For questions about this information, contact Julie Incitti (608) 266-0963