Journal of Family Violence

, Volume 34, Issue 3, pp 177–184 | Cite as

Preventing Sexual Violence on Campus in the U.S.: Four Thought Experiments

  • Emily F. RothmanEmail author
Original Article


This article proposes new approaches to sexual violence prevention on college and university campuses in the United States. The author conducted four thought experiments about possible college sexual assault prevention strategies based on personal experience with campus administrators and sexual assault prevention specialists, review of existing research, and conversation with undergraduates and graduate students engaged in sexual assault prevention. Both advantages and drawbacks of each potential new strategy were contemplated. The four thought experiments were: (1) What if campuses stopped investing in sexual assault prevention and invested in fighting structural oppression instead?; (2) What if the mission to change social norms was not limited to campus, but aimed at the macro level?; (3) What if sexual assault prevention experts were trained in consent and pleasure related to kink, anal sex, and group sex?; and (4) What if colleges and universities provided on-campus education and counseling options for people who perpetrate sexual assault? First, encouraging a “root cause” perspective on sexual assault prevention would be strategic and socially responsible, but might be difficult to enact. Second, social norms change strategies that are global, not local, might be effective but might require an unrealistic level of cooperation between schools. Third, more information about consent as it pertains to kink, anal sex, and group sex may be useful components of sexual assault prevention education. Finally, there are too few evidence-based programs for people who have perpetrated sexual assault on campuses. Thought experiments are inexpensive to conduct and may invigorate the field.


Sexual assault Sexual violence Prevention College health Thought experiment 


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Community Health Sciences, Floor 4Boston University School of Public HealthBostonUSA

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