Callisto, a sexual assault reporting system that offers a supportive, confidential experience to college sexual assault survivors that want to submit a report to the authorities, has been developed by Sexual Health Innovations and aims to offer an empowering reporting experience for sexually assaulted students and help schools prevent future assaults in their campuses.
The initiative, which was introduced at the White House Data Jam on Protecting Students from Sexual Assaults, aims to help schools track incidence of sexual assaults over time, increase official reporting and identification of repeat offenders and connect sexual assault survivors with local and national support, Sexual Health Innovations says.
It is estimated that one in five women is sexually assaulted in college. Just 13% of sexually assaulted students report their experience to an authority.
As Sexual Health Innovation asserts, nine in ten assaults are committed by repeat offenders and “if these assailants were stopped after their second assault, 60% of rapes would be prevented.”
On the official Callisto site, Projectcallisto.org, sexual assault survivors can visit their college’s Callisto page create an incident record and save it for later reporting or instantly notify an authority of their choice. Those saved for later release are time-stamped. The student has the option to have their report to be automatically submitted to authorities should someone else report the same sexual assault offender.
Callisto will initially be available only for colleges, but there are plans to possibly implement the project in the military and the workplace. The information escrow system lets schools view an aggregation of incident reporting records and an aggregate number of sexual offenders and survivors.
Callisto also allows schools access to anonymous survivor responses to questions such as “Is there anything you think your school could have done to prevent this from happening?”
“It was hard to imagine coming forward in an immediately public way, but to start by chronicling what had occurred would have been a helpful and important first step,” a 29 year old male survivor anonymously reports according to Callisto.
Jacquelline Fuller, Google.org Director, expressed her interest in the project in view of its use of “technology to test out new solutions to big problems,” the Huffington Post reports.
Concerns have been expressed over the database’s security and vulnerability to data breaches. Rodgers Alexsis, spokesperson for Virginia 21, an advocacy group lobbying against mandatory reporting legislation for young people says:
“It is still a very response-oriented approach . . . this technology doesn’t do anything to address prevention. And there are much deeper cultural concerns, particularly on college campuses, that have to be addressed as well.”
S. Daniel Carter, director of the 32 National Campus Safety Initiative for the VTV Family Outreach Foundation, also has privacy concerns:
“It provides a useful tool for survivors who want an additional layer of confidentiality, and they’re not having to speak to an actual person who knows who they are but there’s no such thing as absolute confidentiality.”
Kate McCord, Virginia Sexual & Domestic Violence Action Alliance spokeswoman, says Callisto is a “promising concept“.
Sexual Health Innovations is a non-profit organization that funded and developed Callisto.