CAPPA POSITION STATEMENT ON “ME TOO KITS”
Access this statement in PDF here.
Many of our Campus Advocacy and Prevention Professionals Association (CAPPA) members’ campuses have been contacted by a start-up company called Me Too Kit, which is being marketed as “the first ever sexual assault evidence kit for at-home use.” As an organization of prevention educators and survivor advocates working on or closely with college and university campuses to prevent and respond to sexual assault and other forms of gender-based violence across the United States, we urge campuses not to partner with this organization or purchase/distribute Me Too Kits.
Me Too Kit’s marketing is compelling, because they present real problems
Me Too Kit asserts that they were “founded on the principle that you should be able to take back control.” We agree that survivors should be empowered with multiple choices and options. The company also discusses how many survivors do not want to go to a hospital shortly after being sexual assaulted, evidence collection can be retraumatizing, not all hospitals use well-trained staff following best practices, and our country has a large rape kit backlog. However, the Me Too Kit is not a solution to these problems, and their claims are misleading at best and exploitative at worst.
Me Too Kits are not the solution, and they could be harmful.
The following are some of the reasons why colleges and universities should not purchase/distribute Me Too Kits:
Me Too Kits are incomplete. Me Too Kits do not allow a survivor to have the opportunity to be offered all recommended components of a sexual assault evidence collection kit, medical treatment, advocacy, or connections to resources. Their website is vague about their 24/7 support app, the training support staff receive, and how they are connecting survivors with local resources.
Me Too Kits do not protect chain of custody and evidence integrity. While survivors would likely feel more comfortable with evidence collection in a location of their choice, admissible evidence requires verification of chain of custody and evidence integrity. There are already too many cases in which this kind of evidence has been mismanaged, but producing admissible evidence is not currently possible with self-collection and at-home storage. By claiming to offer a viable alternative to a hospital-based forensic exam, Me Too Kits actually risk damaging any collectible evidence and removing a survivor’s option to obtain an examination that can be used as evidence in future criminal proceedings.
Me Too Kits does not provide kit testing. Me Too Kits is not authorized to test the evidence survivors are collecting, so these kits will be fed back into the same system that is currently backlogged without helping cities to locate kits and streamline their processes.
Me Too Kits do not explicitly address victim privacy.. The MeToo Kit allows users of the kit to upload voice and video memos, including video of the completion of various parts of the kit collection process. There is no information provided about how these very personal images and narratives will be secured, stored, made available for access or to whom they belong, which affects whether a user is ever notified if, for example, a subpoena is issued for the voice or video content. There is also no information provided about privacy or victim/survivor rights.
Me Too Kits do not help prevent sexual assault. Me Too Kits can lead to further blaming of victims for their own sexual assaults. The company envisions that if everyone has a Me Too Kit at home, that will serve as a “deterrent to sexual assault.” There are myriad reasons survivors do not choose to report to law enforcement that are unrelated to where and by whom evidence collection occurs. Unfortunately, distributing evidence collection kits does not prevent sexual assault.
Products like this aren’t new
Products like the Me Too Kit are not new to our field. We concur with the findings of a recent research study on “anti-rape technologies” that “unanticipated outcomes may undermine both victims and their cases, those the technologies are ostensibly designed to help” . Therefore, we encourage our members as well as their colleagues at colleges and universities to ask questions as they consider outreach from vendors who are selling sexual assault-related products . Like anything that we do to address sexual assault, these products have the potential to cause harm, especially to the survivors they purportedly seek to help.
Many members’ campuses host or support student entrepreneurial organizations, start-up incubators, and co-curricular opportunities for product development. A strong relationship between prevention and advocacy offices and these programs provides students with the opportunity to make sure their designs and products are informed by the valuable on-the-ground experience that CAPPA members can provide. These partnerships can also help ensure product development and distribution is grounded in rigorous ethics that do not prioritize market disruption over privacy or utility.
We strongly discourage colleges and universities from distributing Me Too Kits, even if they are currently provided to campuses at no cost. Me Too Kits do not serve the purpose that the company claims that they do; their product is not informed by scientific evidence, practice wisdom, or survivor insight; and it can cause harm by falsely offering a solution to systemic challenges faced by survivors on a daily basis.
 We use both the terms victim and survivor, recognizing that students who have experienced sexual assault may use one, both, or neither term to describe themselves.
 White, D., & McMillan, L. (2019). Innovating the Problem Away? A Critical Study of Anti-Rape Technologies. Violence Against Women. https://doi.org/10.1177/1077801219856115
 Further guidance on specific questions to ask when considering such products can be found in Klein, L. B., Rizzo, A. J., & Stapleton, J. G. (2016). Choosing prevention products: Questions to ask when considering sexual and relationship violence and stalking prevention products. Prevention Innovations Research Center, University of New Hampshire. https://cola.unh.edu/sites/default/files/media/2018/11/pirc_prevproductwhitepaper.pdf
This statement was written by the Campus Advocacy and Prevention Professionals Association Leadership Council based on feedback from members.
The Campus Advocacy and Prevention Professionals Association (CAPPA) is the professional association representing over 750 professionals in 49 states, the District of Columbia, and four countries working as campus-based advocates and prevention specialists. CAPPA envisions campuses free from all forms of interpersonal and gender-based violence, including dating and domestic violence, sexual assault and harassment, and stalking. For more information visit: http://www.nationalcappa.org/