Rape Prevention: 11 Million Students Becoming Allies in Fight to End Sexual Assault

In March, Connor Clancy and I asked the National Federation of State High School Associations to offer a course to coaches each year focused on sexual assault prevention. Today I'm proud to announce that they have instead gone above and beyond to engage entire communities in the struggle to end rape.

The NFHS will now come together with the SPARK Movement, the Ohio Alliance to End Sexual Violence, Futures Without Violence, Mentors in Violence Prevention, the California Coalition Against Sexual Assault, the National Sexual Violence Resource Center, and the Pennsylvania Coalition Against Rape to include resources in their trainings for coaches that detail the definitions of rape and sexual assault, successful bystander intervention strategies, and how to report crimes of a sexually violent nature. Together, the coalition's efforts will reach more than 80,000 coaches at 18,500 schools and 11 million students

Tim Flannery, director of Coaches' Education at NFHS, is excited about the powerhouse coalition emerging from tragedy and the impact it may have at this critical time. 

“At a time when so much attention is spent covering the horrific event in Steubenville, Ohio, the NFHS is proactively working toward a solution by educating coaches about their role in supervising and protecting the students they serve," he said.

The coalition's work will not end with an online training: the NFHS has also reached out to over 1 million members — which includes teachers, parents, and school board presidents — who may want to make the training mandatory or encourage their community's coaches to enroll, and they hope to release a slew of educational materials like tool kits to further engage those coaches around ending sexual violence year-round.

When SPARK organized a petition to make change in wake of Steubenville, we knew it would not be the last time we were horrified, as a nation, by the epidemic of rape in this country. But we knew it could be. We invested in a primary prevention strategy to show that rape ends before it starts when we empower the right community members and engage in open and honest discussion with one another about sexual boundaries, consent, and rape. We did not think we'd become part of an unprecedented effort in the movement to end sexual violence

More than 67,000 people supported the now-successful movement to #EducateCoaches. And though the impact of these programs has yet to be measured, one thing is for sure: they stood on the right side of an ugly history.