10 Campus Sexual Assault Facts You Should Remember

We must continue to be mindful of the reality of campus sexual violence on campus and do the right thing.
Published: July 27, 2017

In June, the U.S. Department of Education announced plans to “reorient” its policies and practices for civil rights and Title IX enforcement relating to campus sexual assault.

Some of you in K-12 and higher ed reading this might be breathing a sigh of relief right now, believing you won’t be required to pay as much attention to claims of rape, dating violence, sexual harassment and stalking. Let’s face it, it’s really uncomfortable talking about, let alone actually dealing with these issues. You might be tempted to think we can go back to the days when schools and colleges could just sweep them under the rug.

Before you get too comfortable, however, I’d like to remind you of 10 important facts about sexual violence in schools and universities that CS has covered before but are worth repeating:

  1. Several reputable organizations, including the DOJ, have found that between 20 and 25 percent of women will experience a completed and/or attempted sexual assault during their college career, and more than half of raped college women tell no one of their victimization.
  2. Approximately one in five female high school students report being physically and/or sexually abused by a dating partner, according to Dating Violence Against Adolescent Girls and Associated Substance Abuse, Unhealthy Weight Control, Sexual Risk Behavior, Pregnancy and Suicidality.
  3. The Associated Press found that approximately 17,000 sexual assaults committed by U.S. K-12 students were officially reported from the fall of 2011 to the spring of 2015. Student-on-student sexual assault was seven times more common than assaults on students by teachers.
  4. According to a Scandinavian study conducted earlier this year, during a sexual assault, many victims don’t fight back. Instead, they experience a physiological response called “tonic immobility.” Seven out of ten female sexual assault survivors reported significant immobility while nearly one in two experienced extreme immobility.
  5. Survivors of domestic violence and sexual assault face widespread and serious police discrimination when they seek protection from the criminal justice system. The study titled Sexual Assault, Domestic Violence, and Policing found that 88 percent of respondents reported that police sometimes or often do not believe victims or blame victims for the violence.
  6. The AP found that males account for only 14 percent of all victims, although boys account for 40 percent of the 5- and 6-year-old victims.
  7. Ninety percent of acquaintance rapes involve alcohol, according to National Collegiate Date and Acquaintance Rape Statistics.
  8. Thirty percent of the college women who said they had been raped contemplated suicide after the incident (Warshaw, Robin 1994). We don’t know how sexual assault affects men, particularly non-incarcerated adults because the subject hasn’t been studied enough, according to researchers from Florida Atlantic University and Sam Houston State University.
  9. Bystander intervention training can make a major difference in the amount of sexual violence on campus. According to the American Journal of Preventive Medicine, by year three of one study, high schools where students received intervention training had sexual violence rates 12 percent lower than students in schools that didn’t receive training.
  10. Persons with a disability had an age-adjusted rate of rape or sexual assault that was more than twice the rate for persons without a disability, according to the DOJ.

I could go on, but I think I’ve highlighted enough troubling facts for you to get my point.

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I do think it is wise for the Department of Education to review how Title IX is enforced. It’s always healthy to get a fresh perspective. Could investigations — both by OCR and by schools and universities —be conducted in a better, more equitable way? Perhaps. But when the person from the Department of Education responsible for implementing those changes says that 90 percent of sexual assault claims on college campuses are bogus, it clearly shows she doesn’t understand the campus sexual assault issue or the fact that most assaults aren’t reported. With so little understanding, how can she possibly create policy and guidance that keep campuses safe? We can only hope she develops an open mind and is a quick learner.

As I write this editorial, I have no idea what changes the Department of Education will impose. Hopefully they’ll be good. Regardless of what happens, however, your school, district or institution must continue to be mindful of the reality of campus sexual violence and use prevention and response approaches that actually work. Do the right thing.

Photo: Thinkstock

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