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Preventing sexual violence instead of just responding to it: Students’ perceptions of sexual violence resources on campus


Carolyn M. Garcia, PhD, MPH, RN, SANE, University of Minnesota School of Nursing, 5–140 Weaver-Densford Hall, 308 Harvard Street SE, Minneapolis, MN 55455. E-mail:


Rates of sexual assault of college students are higher than the national rates. Colleges are uniquely positioned to offer preventive education and support services to a high-risk group. This qualitative study examines students’ perceptions of sexual violence resources and services. Seventy-eight female and male students, between 18 and 24 years old, belonging to various demographic groups, participated in one-to-one walking interviews on five diverse Midwest 2- and 4-year postsecondary campuses. Findings suggest that students are concerned with safety—students want more education regarding sexual violence—and they value services that offer protection from incidents of sexual violence on campus. Participants expressed mixed reactions to prevention education that combined sexual violence prevention with alcohol and drug use. Students shared positive views of the security measures on campus. They emphasized the importance of using varied mechanisms for sexual violence-related resource messaging and advised moving away from the pamphlet toward posters and online resources. Recommendations are offered to strengthen existing resources, such as prevention education and postassault interventions including sexual assault nurse examiner services, and to minimize barriers to access of sexual violence resources.