The Kids Are Alright (Mostly): An Empirical Examination of Title IX Knowledge in Institutions of Higher Education

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Abstract

Objective: Mainstream media frequently report about campus sexual assault and, specifically, the failure of academic institutions to prevent and appropriately respond to sexual assault, something that is required by federal law (i.e., Title IX). However, there is no research to date that has empirically examined the extent to which college personnel are knowledgeable about Title IX regulations, nor is there research examining the extent to which rape myths are endorsed among college personnel. The purpose of the present study was to examine these gaps in the literature using a mystery shopper paradigm (to avoid response bias) and a random sample of U.S. institutions of higher education. Method: Of the 632 calls made to Title IX coordinators (N = 319) and campus police/security offices (N = 313), there was a 27.5% participation rate (174 respondents across 156 institutions). Results: The majority of respondents disagreed with rape myths and were aware of campus sexual assault resources. However, some findings were concerning (e.g., a significant minority of police/campus security respondents did not know the name of their Title IX coordinator; confusion about who are confidential reporters). Moreover, less than a third (27.5%) of calls were answered. Small, religious schools were more likely to provide incorrect answers and less likely to refute rape myths. Conclusions: Data suggest there is a need for technical assistance and education about Title IX regulations, particularly regarding which individuals on college campuses are and are not confidential resources. Small, religious institutions may be in most need of technical assistance and/or additional resources.

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