New Study Confirms 1 in 5 College Women Are Sexually Assaulted

Twenty percent of female college students and 5 percent of male college students say they’ve been sexually assaulted.

Research results just released by the Washington Post and Kaiser Family Foundation supports a 2007 study from the federal government which found that one in five female students experience a sexual assault while they are in college. In fact, the poll of more than 1,000 college-aged women and men found that 25 percent of women and 7 percent of men say they had experienced an unwanted sexual incident in college.

Two-thirds of victims had been drinking prior to the assaults. Additionally, there was confusion involving consent: 46 percent didn’t know whether or not there was a lack of consent when both people did not come to a clear agreement on having sex. Most who were assaulted did not report the attack to police or campus officials.

Most of the respondents, however, approved of how their institution of higher education handles sexual assaults in general. More than two-thirds graded their school’s handling of sexual complaints as either an “A” or “B.”

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The survey defined sexual assault as “forced touching of a sexual nature, oral sex, vaginal sexual intercourse, anal sex and sexual penetration with a finger or object,” reports the Washington Post. When respondents were read this definition, 20 percent of the female survey participants and 5 percent of male participants said they had been sexually assaulted and that their attackers used force or threats, or that the victims were attacked while they were incapacitated.

A 2007 study from the federal Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS), which some skeptics question, found that approximately 20 percent of women will experience sexual assault at some point during their college careers. The new Post-Kaiser research, which used the BJS’ methodology and definitions, appears to support those earlier findings. However, another study using a different methodology than the BJS that was conducted last year by the Department of Justice (DOJ) found that the rate of rape and sexual assault for college students was 6.1 per 1,000.

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About the Author

Robin Hattersley Gray

Robin has been covering the security and campus law enforcement industries since 1998 and is a specialist in school, university and hospital security, public safety and emergency management, as well as emerging technologies and systems integration. She joined CS in 2005 and has authored award-winning editorial on campus law enforcement and security funding, officer recruitment and retention, access control, IP video, network integration, event management, crime trends, the Clery Act, Title IX compliance, sexual assault, dating abuse, emergency communications, incident management software and more. Robin has been featured on national and local media outlets and was formerly associate editor for the trade publication Security Sales & Integration. She obtained her undergraduate degree in history from California State University, Long Beach.

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