Sexual assault rules in K-12 need reality check

The Trump administration has proposed that complaints about sexual assault under Title IX would have to be “severe and pervasive” to trigger an investigation (‘It’s Like the Wild West’: Sexual Assault Victims Struggle in K-12 Schools,” The New York Times, May 12).  Moreover, schools could decline if claims took place off campus.

At first glance, this seems outrageous because it would exacerbate the psychological and physical harm done to victims.  But there is another side of the issue that warrants consideration.  I’m not talking now about sexual assault itself but instead about where it takes place. Why are public schools in K-12, which educate minors under the law, responsible for what happens off school grounds?  Studies show that students of that age often engage in off-campus sexual activity.  Are school officials supposed to intervene in every complaint?  The proper authority is the police.

The girl featured in the article cited above was only 14 when the assault allegedly occurred off school grounds.  Although the Winchester Public Schools district in Virginia seemed more concerned with protecting itself from legal liability than in protecting the girl, I believe a line has to be drawn about a school’s responsibility.

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