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Fraternities to use bystander education to help curb sexual assault on college campuses

09/23/2014 09:18 EDT | Updated 11/23/2014 05:59 EST
WASHINGTON - Eight college fraternities announced Tuesday an effort to work together on new training aimed at combating sexual misconduct, hazing and binge drinking.

The focus is on learning to recognize, diagnose and intervene in potentially harmful situations. An estimated 35,000 undergraduates are anticipated to participate in the first year of the Fraternal Health and Safety Initiative consortium, according to the announcement.

The participating fraternities include Lambda Chi Alpha, Phi Delta Theta, Pi Kappa Alpha, Sigma Alpha Epsilon, Sigma Alpha Mu, Sigma Chi, Tau Kappa Epsilon and Triangle — groups with a combined 75,000 undergraduate men at more than 550 college campuses. The consortium plans to use training that organizers say is based on research and created for retreat-like settings.

"If you think of the power of having all of these fraternities on a particular campus going through similar programming and similar messaging, it could definitely impact the culture on that campus fairly quickly," said Marc Mores, executive vice-president of the James R. Favor & Company. The insurance company insures campus fraternities and organized the effort.

Last week, the White House started the "It's On Us" campaign, which is focused on encouraging people to consider stopping sexual assault to be part of their personal responsibility and to intervene when they suspect a potential victim can't or won't consent. A White House task force on campus sexual assault, in a report issued earlier this year, said that one of the most promising prevention strategies is bystander prevention.

Within higher education, there has been growing pressure to curb sexual assault and better protect victims.

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Kimberly Hefling can be followed at http://twitter.com/khefling

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