Apps that could curb acquaintance rape on Campus

September 18, 2014

I poke around the web quite a bit, and usually when something piques my interest, I will share it. This is something I need to share.

We don’t like to think about it, crimes happening to people in college. Hell, personally I don’t like to think about crimes happening to anyone ever, but it happens. And acquaintance rape is all too familiar a subject for many.

Let’s say you’re buzzed at a party. You walk around and see some girl reluctantly doing shots in a room full of guys. You see a drunk 18-year old guy who is almost unconscious, being cornered by a guy and you’re not sure what’s going on. Do you go and ask? Or do you just mind your own business and go about the party, thinking someone else will step in? Most of us will likely hope someone else does the dirty work. That is the ‘bystander effect’.

As Jessica Roy writes on Fusion’s site:

“That atmosphere of uncertainty around strangers is part of what leads to one of the most pervasive forms of sexual assault on college campuses right now: Sexual assault and so-called “acquaintance rape.” At the Integrated Innovation Institute at Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh, students are working on apps to help partygoers prevent such assaults.

During the past year, the increase in sexual assaults on college campuses has made headline news and caused a nationwide stir. In January, President Barack Obama established the White House Task Force to Protect Students from Sexual Assault. In April, the White House released a statement calling on schools to step up education, prevention, and response efforts to protect the one in five young women who will become a victim of sexual assault during her time in college.

Students at the Integrated Innovation Institute have developed prototypes for two mobile apps that would leverage the power of bystanders and their ever-present smartphones to stop acquaintance rape and sexual assault before it can happen. One is called NightOwl, which lets people communicate anonymously with other people in the same location (like a party or a frat house, or even a restaurant, club, or military base) to call attention to potential problems (“does anyone know that guy in the blue shirt who’s cornering that girl over there?”). The other is called SPOT (A Problem), an app integrated with a wearable tech bracelet that instantly alerts the party host or fraternity risk manager that there’s a potential issue (“weird guy in a blue shirt cornering some girl in the front hall, you should check it out”).”

Personally speaking, it’s impressive that college students are recognizing that this abuse is a huge problem and are tackling it head on – and working towards creating a solution.

You can read the whole article here.


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