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Ending the epidemic Part III: Colleges seek to create respectful environment

A recent survey suggests that nearly half of college students have experienced abusive behaviors in a relationship. Local colleges have numerous programs in place to help in those situations.

A recent survey suggests that nearly half of college students have experienced abusive behaviors in a relationship. Local colleges have numerous programs in place to help in those situations.

— The numbers will shock you.

Liz Claiborne Inc., a corporate leader in dating violence awareness, commissioned a poll in September of 2011 among college students to research the issue. The results were staggering.

According to Liz Claiborne Inc.’s Love Is Not Abuse 2011 College Dating Violence and Abuse Poll, some 43 percent of college women have experienced violent or abusive dating behaviors. Nearly a quarter — 22 percent — reported actual physical abuse, sexual abuse or threats of physical violence. However, 38 percent of college students said they wouldn’t know how to get help on campus if they found themselves in an abusive relationship.

“The findings of this survey prove that colleges and universities need to provide a more comprehensive response and additional creative educational programs to address dating violence and abuse,” said Jane Randel, senior vice president of corporate communications for Liz Claiborne Inc.

But here in Central New York, colleges actually have a pretty comprehensive list of services that they provide to students, and they make sure that students in unhealthy relationships are aware of what’s out there. In addition, each of the three major schools in Onondaga County has preventative education programs in place to help students understand how to maintain a healthy relationship.

Le Moyne College

“Students have a few options,” said Anne Kearney, LCSW-R, director of the Wellness Center for Health and Counseling at Le Moyne College. “A student could seek counseling, and that’s a confidential relationship. Clearly, in that relationship, the student would be encouraged to set limits, whether that is to file charges or a formal complaint. In that case, the goal is to have the client self-determine options.”

Kearney said the options are different, however, if abusive behavior is witnessed by another party on campus.

“If violence between two people is witnessed, security is involved and a report is written,” she said. “That situation is required to go through a judicial conduct hearing and appropriate sanctions will be issued. The victim has the right to pursue legal charges.”

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