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Community Health: Education, Prevention & Inspiration

Back to School…Smartphone Apps Help to Battle Campus Sexual Assaults

Studies show that about one in five women is a survivor of attempted or completed sexual violence while in college. Among college women, 9 in 10 victims of rape and sexual assault knew their offender. Additionally, a substantial number of men experience sexual violence during college.

In response to the 2011 "Apps Against Abuse" challenge, several new apps are available offering college students new tools to protect themselves from sexual assault. The challenge is a partnership between the Office of the Vice President, the Department of Health and Human Services and the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy. These apps provide tools for college students facing unsafe situations to reach out to their peers, connect with resources on campus, or notify law enforcement.

A few to check out…..

Circle 6: Created by sexual assault survivors, this app allows student to choose six trusted friends to join a "circle". If faced with an unsafe or dangerous situation, they can send a text to those friends with just two clicks. The app includes several pre-written messages such as "Come and get me. I need help getting home safely. Call when you're close".

Here For You: Created by Loyola University in Chicago, provides student with resources if they are victim of assault, as well as information on how to help a friend.

LiveSafe: Created by a survivor of the Virginia Tech shootings in 2007, this app allows students to track crimes on campus. Users can report incidents, view a map and a list of reported activity, and broadcast their location to family or friends for safety.

Kitestring: While not specifically targeting colleges, it has personal safety in mind. You provide the app with emergency contact numbers, then let it know when you are going out alone, such as walking home alone or going out for a run- and how long it will take you to reach your destination. At the specified time, the app texts you to check in. If you don't respond, it alerts your emergency contacts.

While just one aspect of comprehensive sexual assault prevention efforts, these apps offer one additional tool students may choose to have in their "safety toolboxes".