The Department of Education (DOE) recently released the Safe Place to Learn resource package, providing schools with a variety of materials aimed at eliminating student-on-student sexual harassment and sexual violence. The resource package is one of a collection of tools commissioned by the White House Task Force to Protect Students from Sexual Assault.
The package includes a variety of materials, including: guidance for administrators, e-learning modules for school staff, a coordinated response team planning guide and training module, a trauma sensitivity training module, action steps, discussion guides, and bystander supports, among other resources. The contents of the resource package and each component’s intended audience are as follows:
- Implementation Guide. An implementation guide for all district staff that summarizes the intent of the resource package, the recommended use of its materials, and a glossary of common terms used in the package.
- Leading a Safe Place to Learn. A guide for administrators to support positive change through Title IX compliance, maintaining a positive school climate, and trauma sensitivity. It includes information on how to work with Title IX coordinators and emphasizes the importance of disseminating school policies and procedures relevant to sexual harassment and violence to the entire school community.
- Staff E-Learning Modules. Training modules for all building staff and teachers that are comprised of three e-learning units, including: (1) sexual harassment under Title IX, which explains the range of unwelcome sexual conduct, the school’s obligations to respond to sexual harassment, and the authority of the Title IX coordinator; (2) school climate and learning, which describes the components needed to implement and evaluate efforts to building a positive school climate; and (3) developmentally appropriate strategies to prevent, intercede, and respond to incidents of sexual harassment.
- Coordinated Response Team Planning Guide. A guide for all staff responsible for intercessions with and response to students that assists staff in planning a coordinated response to sexual harassment allegations.
- Training Module. An e-learning unit focused on trauma sensitivity at school designed for all staff responsible for intercessions with and response to students. The training describes the impact of trauma among youth, its effects on brain development, and strategies for management.
- Handouts and Worksheets. Resources for all staff to address specific issues and assist staff in examining their school environment. The resources cover topics such as: enhancing peer relationships, bystander prevention of sexual violence, adverse childhood experiences, symptoms and tips for working with students affected by trauma, action steps, and self-care plans.
According to the DOE’s National Center on Safe Supportive Learning Environments, the resource package is focused on peer-to-peer sexual violence. However, the chief of the DOE’s Office of Civil Rights, Catherine Lhamon, commented that the DOE also handles many cases of sexual harassment where educators are the offending party. Therefore, the package may be of use in situations of educator-on-student sexual violence as well.
Emily Tulloch, a second year law student at Loyola University Chicago School of Law, is a Loyola Education Practicum Student. The Practicum, part of Loyola’s education law curriculum, was created to provide law students with practical experience at education law firms and organizations. Students receive academic credit for their Practicum experience.