The Department of Education issued guidelines Monday that will help school administrators and teachers deal with cases of sexual violence in the classroom.
In public high schools, there were 800 reported rapes or attempted rapes during the 2007-2008 school year, the most recent year for which data is available. There were an additional 3,800 reported incidents of sexual battery, according to the department.
Under Title IX, an education bill requiring gender equality passed in 1972, schools that receive federal funding are required to have a clear policy regarding sexual violence.
The new guidelines say schools have a responsibility to respond to student-on-student sexual harassment or violence that occurs anywhere, whether at school, on a field trip, or off campus. Regardless of whether a complaint is filed by a student or parent, a school that knows about or "reasonably should know about" harassment must "promptly investigate to determine what occurred and then take appropriate steps to resolve the situation."
Secretary of Education Arne Duncan told an audience at the University of New Hampshire that sexual violence can happen anywhere.
"Every school would like to believe it is immune from sexual violence but the facts suggest otherwise," he said. "Our first goal is prevention through education...Our larger goal is to raise awareness [of] an issue that should have no place in society and especially in our schools."