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Practice and Programs to Support Everyone

Our holistic, systemic approach addresses prevention and response. It consists of three mutually dependent, equally important tiers:

Tier one focuses on prevention and engages the whole community.

Tier two focuses on supporting specific groups and individuals, including all those affected when someone comes forward to report sexual misconduct.

Tier three focuses on our work in support of alumni who have been harmed.


Our Sexual Assault Prevention and Response Program for students is a layered, integrated effort to educate and prevent instances of sexual misconduct, including assault and harassment. Current initiatives in the area of student health and well-being, as well as long-standing school policies, are at the core of our efforts.

Through this program, we strive to create resonant lessons and events for students at each grade level that help them understand how to handle sexual situations and inappropriate behavior and seek assistance when needed. These include peer education initiatives, assemblies and programs, health education courses, and a host of other support programs and services provided to students throughout the year.

How We Educate Students

Peer Education — We empower students to communicate with each other about sexual assault through a variety of groups, including H4, a student peer education health group. Active Minds sponsors interactive exhibits that encourage students to recognize and voice feelings about sexuality and mental health issues. Other groups, like the Student Health Advisory Board, Active Listeners, Dorm Proctors, and Student Listeners all support peer education efforts by providing students an opportunity to engage with each other.

Training Programs for Student Leaders — We have worked for three years with Prevention Innovations Research Center (PIRC) at the University of New Hampshire, praised by the White House Task Force to Protect Students from Sexual Assault, on a comprehensive sexual and relationship violence and stalking prevention program customized for PEA students. PIRC has provided strategic consultation to the PEA administrative team; conducted focus groups with students, faculty and staff members; and convened a working group of students, faculty and staff to contribute to prevention strategies specific to PEA. Trainings have included:

We have also partnered with:

One Love Foundation on a dating violence workshop for student leaders

HAVEN on a workshop about healthy relationships, supporting victims/survivors of sexual misconduct and understanding consent

Maine’s Boys to Men Program will provide training in 2018-2019

Assemblies and Presentations — In the last few years speakers and presentations have included: Debby Herbenick '94, a highly-regarded sex researcher and educator; SLUT: The Play, performed by The Arts Effect, a youth theater group focused on “engaging people of all ages and genders in conversations about sexism, sexual shaming and assault”; “The Hunting Ground,” a documentary about sexual assault on college campuses; Catharsis Productions’ “Sex Signals” program;  Byron Hurt, author of “Gender Violence, Masculinity, Race, and Popular Culture”; and the Center for the Study of Boys ‘and Girls’ Lives. These speakers spend additional time with students in classrooms, affording an opportunity for follow-up discussions.

Health Education — In our developmentally appropriate courses, we aim to foster an environment where students can speak openly and directly about complicated issues and hash out the complexities inherent in sexual communications and decision-making.

  • “Teen Health Matters” is a yearlong, required course for preps (9th graders) and lowers (10th graders) that explores a variety of health issues, including relationships, sex and sexuality.
  • A spring-term required course for all seniors, “Crossroads: Your Future, Your Health,” is designed to prepare students for the transition from high school.
  • Inside and outside the classroom, we teach students to understand the implications of sexual activity, to recognize the difference between healthy sexual behavior and unhealthy behavior, to recognize the signs of harassment or assault, and to take appropriate action to prevent inappropriate sexual behavior, harassment or assault.
  • Our senior elective courses provide additional pathways: “The Human Pursuit of Euphoria,” where we discuss sexual assault, especially around the use of alcohol and other drugs; “A Study of Human Sexuality,” where we go in depth with these issues; and “The Power Within: Philosophy and Science of Optimal Health,” which explores modern-day behavioral science and neuroscience for guidance on well-being.
  • Our Health and Human Development faculty also assist in the training of dorm proctors and student listeners, and collaborate with their peers on how to best address issues with students.

Other Programs and Services

  • The House Calls program, where faculty members facilitate short educational workshops for student clubs, dorms and teams, is available upon request.
  • Additional support, including a team of professional counselors, is available for any student who would like to address questions or concerns in a private, one-on-one setting.
  • Students can seek help, for themselves or a peer, through the Academy Student Assistance Program, which integrates support from professional counselors, health educators, advisers and parents.
  • The director of student well-being is available for consultation, discussion and presentations.
  • At the beginning of the year, faculty advisers engage students in a discussion about expected behavior and supporting one another with respect, decency and trust in our own community. Advisers meet weekly with their advisee groups to check in on the students’ health and wellness.
  • Exonians Against Sexual Assault (EASA) is a student club that seeks to create a respectful and empowering campus where sexual harassment and sexual misconduct are not tolerated. They accomplish this by facilitating discussions on how to intervene and prevent sexual misconduct at Exeter and providing peer support/leadership in creating a safe campus for all members of the community. EASA co-hosts many activities during April, sexual assault awareness month.
  • The Exeter Feminist Union, a student club, has hosted a panel made up of teachers, deans, counselors and students to discuss sexual issues. It holds weekly open meetings to discuss gender, intersectionality, sexual violence and exploitation.
  • Exeter Day of Dialogue was held for the entire campus for the first time in April 2018. This event involved small groups of students in student- and faculty-led dialogue about values. In 2018-2019, our next Day of Dialogue will focus on our affirmative consent policy.

Additionally, we continue to review our educational programming to ensure the Academy is providing the necessary curriculum and developmentally appropriate programming for all students.

Expectations for Adult Members of Exeter's Community

PEA has extensive policies and procedures in place that govern our hiring process, set clear guidelines for the conduct of all faculty and staff members and ensure that appropriate action is taken in the event of inappropriate conduct. Our robust training programs provide all employees with guidance and tools to help ensure healthy and safe student-adult relationships.

To support these standards, we have the following policies and trainings:

  • The Academy has a zero tolerance policy regarding sexually inappropriate touching and/or interaction of any kind between adults and students, regardless of age, including all forms of sexual activity and sexual harassment. Violators of this policy are subject to serious penalties, up to and including termination and being barred from campus.
  • The Academy’s strict Code of Conduct prohibits improper adult-student interactions.
  • Faculty and staff undergo a comprehensive background check before they are hired.
  • Employees in the health center, campus safety and children’s center undergo an additional background check.
  • Adult family members living with faculty and staff on campus undergo background checks.
  • All employees receive comprehensive training and development in the areas of sexual abuse and assault, including their responsibilities under New Hampshire mandated reporting laws for misconduct.
  • Boundaries training for all employees addresses appropriate interactions with students and defines prohibited behavior, including sexual or romantic interactions.
  • The Academy reports sexual assaults and other violations of New Hampshire’s Safe School Zones Act to the Exeter Police Department and the New Hampshire Division for Children, Youth and Families (DCYF) for official action.
  • Faculty and staff will receive training on the updated Affirmative Consent Policy in the fall of 2018 and develop tools for talking with students about consent.
  • Faculty annually participate in training presented by the Exeter Police Department, HAVEN and the Rockingham County Attorney’s Office on reporting obligations and sexual violence.
  • Restorative Justice Circle training has been provided to over 80 faculty and staff. It is offered as a tool for conducting difficult conversations, including talking about sexual misconduct.