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OCR: Office for Civil Rights
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Dear Colleague Letter

OFFICE OF THE ASSISTANT SECRETARY



Page 2

sexual assault, sexual battery, and sexual coercion. All such acts of sexual violence are forms of sexual harassment covered under Title IX.

The statistics on sexual violence are both deeply troubling and a call to action for the nation. A report prepared for the National Institute of Justice found that about 1 in 5 women are victims of completed or attempted sexual assault while in college.3 The report also found that approximately 6.1 percent of males were victims of completed or attempted sexual assault during college.4 According to data collected under the Jeanne Clery Disclosure of Campus Security and Campus Crime Statistics Act (Clery Act), 20 U.S.C. § 1092(f), in 2009, college campuses reported nearly 3,300 forcible sex offenses as defined by the Clery Act.5 This problem is not limited to college. During the 2007-2008 school year, there were 800 reported incidents of rape and attempted rape and 3,800 reported incidents of other sexual batteries at public high schools.6 Additionally, the likelihood that a woman with intellectual disabilities will be sexually assaulted is estimated to be significantly higher than the general population.7 The Department is deeply concerned about this problem and is committed to ensuring that all students feel safe in their school, so that they have the opportunity to benefit fully from the school’s programs and activities.

This letter begins with a discussion of Title IX’s requirements related to student-on-student sexual harassment, including sexual violence, and explains schools’ responsibility to take immediate and effective steps to end sexual harassment and sexual violence. These requirements are discussed in detail in OCR’s Revised Sexual Harassment Guidance issued in 2001 (2001 Guidance).8 This letter supplements the 2001 Guidance by providing additional guidance and practical examples regarding the Title IX requirements as they relate to sexual violence. This letter concludes by discussing the proactive efforts schools can take to prevent sexual harassment and violence, and by providing examples of remedies that schools and OCR may use to end such conduct, prevent its recurrence, and address its effects. Although some examples contained in this letter are applicable only in the postsecondary context, sexual

3 CHRISTOPHER P. KREBS ET AL., THE CAMPUS SEXUAL ASSAULT STUDY: FINAL REPORT xiii (Nat’l Criminal Justice Reference Serv., Oct. 2007), available at http://www.ncjrs.gov/pdffiles1/nij/grants/221153.pdf. This study also found that the majority of campus sexual assaults occur when women are incapacitated, primarily by alcohol. Id. at xviii.
4 Id. at 5-5.
5 U.S. Department of Education, Office of Postsecondary Education, Summary Crime Statistics (data compiled from reports submitted in compliance with the Clery Act), available at http://www2.ed.gov/admins/lead/safety/criminal2007-09.pdf. Under the Clery Act, forcible sex offenses are defined as any sexual act directed against another person, forcibly and/or against that person’s will, or not forcibly or against the person’s will where the victim is incapable of giving consent. Forcible sex offenses include forcible rape, forcible sodomy, sexual assault with an object, and forcible fondling. 34 C.F.R. Part 668, Subpt. D, App. A.
6 SIMONE ROBERS ET AL., INDICATORS OF SCHOOL CRIME AND SAFETY: 2010 at 104 (U.S. Dep’t of Educ. & U.S. Dep’t of Justice, Nov. 2010), available at http://nces.ed.gov/pubs2011/2011002.pdf.
7 ERIKA HARRELL & MICHAEL R. RAND, CRIME AGAINST PEOPLE WITH DISABILITIES, 2008 (Bureau of Justice Statistics, U.S. Dep’t of Justice, Dec. 2010), available at http://bjs.ojp.usdoj.gov/content/pub/pdf/capd08.pdf.
8 The 2001 Guidance is available on the Department’s Web site at http://www2.ed.gov/about/offices/list/ocr/docs/shguide.pdf. This letter focuses on peer sexual harassment and violence. Schools’ obligations and the appropriate response to sexual harassment and violence committed by employees may be different from those described in this letter. Recipients should refer to the 2001 Guidance for further information about employee harassment of students.


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Last Modified: 04/03/2011