Campus sex assault reports on the rise

By Katy Murphy, The Mercury News

New federal data reveal a dramatic jump in the number of on-campus sexual assaults reported by colleges nationwide over the past decade — an increase of 126 percent between 2001 and 2013 — even as overall campus crime fell.

What’s more, campus sexual assault reports rose by 25 percent between 2012 and 2013 alone, the data show, climbing to about 5,000 incidents nationwide.

The latest figures coincide with the beginning of an unprecedented movement to prevent campus sexual assault, with students and alumni demanding a stronger response from their colleges. The report released Wednesday by the National Center for Education Statistics didn’t explain the reasons behind the sharp uptick, but experts believe heightened awareness may have caused the numbers to swell.


While it’s disturbing to know that anyone has experienced sexual violence on campus, “it’s positive to see more survivors coming forward and feeling they can report to the institution,” said Abigail Boyer of The Clery Center for Security on Campus in Wayne, Pa., which offers colleges training on crime prevention and reporting requirements under federal law.

The numbers could also reflect another shift on college campuses, she said: “institutions understanding what needs to be reported.”

Colleges and universities that receive federal money are required to share crime statistics publicly as a result of a 1990 consumer protection law called the Jeanne Clery Act.

The statistics include incidents reported to police and to campus officials of crimes that occur on campus; on adjacent sidewalks and streets; and on college-owned or affiliated locations, such as fraternities. A rape in an off-campus apartment, however, would not be included in the statistics.


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