The mission of Stop Sexual Assault in Schools (SSAIS) is to educate students, families, and schools about the right to an equal education free from sexual harassment. We proactively address the epidemic of traumatic sexual harassment impacting our nation’s students. We provide students, K-12 schools, and organizations resources so that the right to an equal education is not compromised by sexual harassment, sexual assault, and gender discrimination.

The impact of sexual harassment and assault

Sexual harassment/assault and gender-based discrimination in the school environment devastate students and their families. Not only do the survivors’ emotional and psychological scars endure long after the attack, their social lives, education, and career dreams are shattered. For some, the trauma is insurmountable; gender-based harassment and sexual assault have driven an increasing number of adolescent students to suicide.

Protest promoted by SSAIS Founders
Photo credit: Kyle Stokes, KPLU-FM

Our schools are in crisis, according to research, media reports, and students who know all too well.  In a national survey 81% of students (grades 8-11) reported experiencing sexual harassment during the school day. In another survey 87% of students reported that the sexual harassment had a negative effect on them.

Children in grades K-12 are particularly vulnerable to sexual assault.  Studies show that over 40% of female rape victims were assaulted before age 18. Girls ages 16-19 are four times more likely than the general population to be victims of rape or sexual assault; 15% of sexual assault and rape victims are under age 12, according to U.S. Bureau of Justice statistics.

The younger the victim, the more devastating the impact and greater vulnerability to repeated assault. However, regardless of whether the assault or harassment occurred at school or elsewhere, students have the right to an equal education under Title IX. By educating younger students about sexual harassment/assault, we can safeguard their K-12 educational experience and reduce the likelihood of trauma when they are in college.

Survivors and their families consistently say that it’s impossible to fathom the nightmare of sexual assault unless personally experienced. To this emotional devastation add the destruction of the student’s education that occurs when a school district treats the victim as a second-class citizen or adversary.

More often than not, schools deny the assault occurred, the victim suffers shame and isolation, there is retaliation, the student’s Title IX civil rights are violated, the student is too traumatized to return to school, and her/his education is destroyed. Who could believe that schools would treat students like this?

Who we are

SSAIS is comprised of advocates, assault survivors and their families, academics, legal and sexual assault experts, teachers, parents, students, and everyday citizens who are passionate about youth well-being and educational equality. Despite the sexual assault epidemic raging in schools and colleges, families don’t think sexual assault and gender-based harassment can happen to their child. But because sexual harassment and assault can be any family’s nightmare, students and families must be educated about this substantial risk.

KOMO-TV report

We founders of SSAIS are professional educators whose lives were thrown into chaos when our 15-year old daughter was sexually assaulted on a high school field trip. Through tireless advocacy, our successful Title IX complaint, social action, and media attention we succeeded in compelling the school district to reform its sexual harassment policy, comply with Title IX directives, and improve its safety procedures on school field trips.

We know first-hand how sexual assault can devastate a family, and the desperate need for education and accountability in schools in the arena of sexual harassment and violence. We want to encourage ordinary people like us to take action in their own communities or beyond.

What we do

Garfield High sexual assault protest
Protest promoted by SSAIS Founders
Photo credit: Kyle Stokes, KPLU-FM

In 2015, SSAIS spearheaded  the movement for awareness of sexual harassment and sexual assault in K-12 schools so we can prevent it, support victims, inform students about their rights, and empower them to protect their peers.

Sadly, in an era when school districts’ fear of liability for assault eclipses accountability, very few families are aware of their rights when sexual harassment and assault occurs. That’s because school districts themselves are rarely aware of their federally mandated obligations under Title IX to provide students with an equal education free of sexual harassment and thus fail to make their obligation known to their students.

To remedy this unacceptable situation, we provide students, schools, and organizations resources to promote the rights of students whose access to an equal education has been compromised by sexual harassment, sexual assault, and gender discrimination. The right to an equal education is guaranteed by Title IX.

Our goal is to ensure that:
  • Students understand their rights to an education free of sexual harassment and
  • Students and their families understand their recourses in the aftermath of a sexual assault/harassment;
  • School administrators understand and comply with regulations governing their
    response to reported sexual assault/harassment; and
  • Educational institutions understand that compassionate and nonjudgmental
    support of victims is part of the healing process after an assault/harassment.

Get started with our free video and action guide, Sexual Harassment: Not in Our School!

SSAIS has opportunities for advisors, advocates, teachers, parents, interns, and students who share a commitment to combating sexual violence/harassment and its aftermath in schools. Everyone has a unique talent to contribute to this movement, even from home.

Learn about our work, share our mission, and participate in this groundbreaking movement on behalf of K-12 students. We welcome your input.

SSAIS is a federal 501(c)(3) public charity.

Get involved and contact us!