While leaving the family nest for college is an exciting time for hundreds of New Canaan students, freshmen leaving home need to study up about the risk of sexual assault on campus, domestic violence experts warned.

Dede Bartlett, founder of the New Canaan Domestic Violence Partnership, appeared at the New Canaan Police Department Monday alongside First Selectman Rob Mallozzi, representatives of The Center for Sexual Assault Crisis and Education and others to implore parents to address the topic of sexual assault with their college-bound seniors, both female and male.

“Squeamishness is not an option, ignorance is dangerous,” Bartlett said. “All colleges have become much more vigilant but there is only so much they can do.”

Officials said a federal law passed two years ago is requiring schools to be transparent in reporting a more comprehensive range of sexual assault incidents and safeguard essential victim’s rights. The law, the Campus Sexual Violence Elimination Act, mandates schools to educate students about the definitions of sexual assault, put in place preventive educational programs, and requires colleges to publicize and share information on obtaining restraining orders against alleged rapists and other measures designed to improve support for students.

Students and parents should use college orientation sessions to get answers on their specific college or university’s sex assault reporting procedures, which can differ substantially depending on state laws, said Jessica Buchanan, outreach and prevention coordinator for the The Center for Sexual Assault Crisis and Education .

An on-campus health center may or may not provide sexual assault forensic evidence exams, and how they can report an alleged sexual assault confidentially or anonymously, Buchanan said.

In some states, professors are required to report any allegations of sexual assault they learn about, raising the possibility an unwitting victim could inadvertently compromise their anonymity if they confide to a trusted teacher, Buchanan said.