Peer on Peer Sexual Grooming and Assault – advice from SafeBAE
24th March 2017
who are SafeBae?
SafeBAE is the only national survivor-driven organization in the US which works exclusively with middle and high-school students to educate 12-18 year olds about positive consent, peer-on-peer grooming, dating violence, sexual assault prevention, re-victimization intervention, survivor self care, and survivor rights under Title IX.
The charity helps promote social change by providing teens the tools to change peer culture, discussing topics such as peer-on-peer sexual grooming, alongside sexual assaults. And in fact, in September last year the documentary, Audrie & Daisy, appeared on Netflix, documenting several stories of sexual assault victims and their families in America, including the founders of the charity.
With statistics and stories such as those discussed in the above clip, it is fundamental that not only educators, but also teens, are equipped with the right advice to help establish open dialogues with students or peers who may be at risk of, or who have already been a victim of, a sexual attack. This is why SafeBAE have collated the following information to help aid dialog and help survivors or victims of peer on peer grooming.
what is peer-on-peer sexual grooming?
Peer-on-peer sexual grooming is the process by which teen sexual predators move from inappropriate intentions to sexual exploitation or sexual assault. The central tenant of grooming is manipulation (usually online) of a target with the goal of obtaining sex.
How to respond to a student who might be identified as being sexually groomed by a peer
SafeBAE does not provide legal advice, but if you suspect a student is being groomed we recommend the following:
- Remember that each alleged target has unique needs and should not be forced into reporting harassment unless s/he is ready.
- Disclose to the alleged victim that you are a mandated reporter if the victim were to confirm the harassment, but let her/him know that you can still offer them support if they are not ready to confirm the harassment.
- Tell her/him that you support their bravery in coming forward.
- Support the student without judgment. Remind her/him that it is not their fault; she/he did nothing to prompt the targeting; it’s natural and OK to be confused, scared, and in pain. Although s/he may feel alone or alienated they WILL overcome this.
- Ask her/him what you can do to help them regain their voice and power. If that means letting her/him know if they don’t feel comfortable with you being their central adult contact, you will not be insulted and together you can find another safe adult in the school who will help them.
- Ask the student about next steps. Sample questions: What would you like me to do? Would you like me to contact your caregivers/parents? Do you feel like you’re in danger? Do you need an escort between classes? To the parking lot? On the school bus?
- Ask the student what future interventions you can take on an on-going basis to keep them safe, supported and less vulnerable.
- Ask the student to save all digital correspondence.
How to respond to a student who might be identified as a sexual assault victim
The EXACT same steps should be followed as above, but know that the alleged target of harassment is now a possible sexual assault victim who has sustained physical and mental trauma by at least one peer assailant, if not more.
Also please consider the following information and additional tips:
- In the wake of a sexual assault teen survivors are oftentimes re-victimized by non-stop, intense online bullying by schoolmates. They are not believed, they lose friends, they are called names, they are physically threatened, and people even urge them to kill themselves.
- Most survivors of teen sexual assault report that the bullying in the aftermath of an assault is sometimes far worse than the assault itself. Indeed, teenagers who are victims of sexual assault are at a significantly greater risk of attempting suicide.
- Ask her/him if you can help them reach out to medical and mental healthcare personnel. A school therapist should have access to direct service agencies in your area.
- The ideal support will be to work with the student in order to avoid further trauma and to allow them to feel some control in moving forward. Keep in mind that an assault takes away a victim’s feeling of having control over their body. Allowing them to have a sense of autonomy in their healing process is key to their recovery.
- Each sexual-assault victim has unique needs. In order to protect the alleged victim and provide her/him access to their Title IX right. Each student’s accommodations should be individualized to protect her/him from an escalation of harassment and bullying (whether on or offline) after her/his attack. For example, some may need to leave class early in order to avoid their alleged assailant, whilst others may need counseling support in and outside of school. Learn more about Title IX rights here
Impero’s partnership with SafeBAE
Impero recently partnered with SafeBAE to help schools detect issues related to sexting and cyberbullying. SafeBAE will enhance our library of sexting-related keywords and will help create a new keyword library of terms related to the bullying of sexual assault victims, included in our flagship product Impero Education Pro.
If a keyword or phrase is detected from one of our keyword libraries, whilst a device is being used on the school network, an alert will be created. Educators are then able to view the students’ comments or internet searches in context to determine the appropriate next steps. Find out more about our keyword detection libraries here.