Many Schools Don’t Accurately Report Sexual Assaults

WASHINGTON – A recent study of nearly 2,500 colleges and universities has found that many are not properly reporting sexual assault statistics. Others are having difficulty implementing effective prevention programs.

The report, Sexual Assault on Campus: What Colleges and Universities Are Doing About It, was sponsored by the National Institute of Justice (NIJ) and found that schools need guidance when it comes to preventing, reporting and responding to sexual assaults on or near campuses.

Underreporting continues to be a major problem. Less than 5 percent of completed or attempted rapes are reported to campus police. The study speculated this may be partially due to the fact that between 80 and 90 percent of sexual assaults involve a victim and assailant who know each other, and half of the student victims do not consider the incident to be rape. This is particularly true when no weapon was used, alcohol was involved and no sign of physical injury was evident.

When schools do know about incidents, the study found that only 37 percent have reported their statistics correctly. Colleges and universities find it difficult to consistently interpret and apply federal reporting requirements. Additionally, state and school definitions of sexual assault vary widely.

Further information on this report will appear in the March/April 2006 issue of Campus Safety magazine.

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