Campus Rape Study Highlights Prevalence of Sexual Assault

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A recently-released study suggests that one in every five women on college campuses were victims of rape or attempted rape in their freshman year, and for most of these women, the events took place within their first three months on campus.

The study asked questions of 480 female freshman on a university campus in upstate New York in 2010.  According to the results, about 20% of women become the victims of sexual assault while attending college.  Previous research confirms this finding, including a report last year from the Centers for Disease Control which found 19.3% of women to be the victims of rape or attempted rape at some point in their lives.

According to an editorial which accompanied the study in the latest issue of the Journal of Adolescent Health, “Rape is a common experience among college-aged women.”  Researcher Kate Carey, a professor of behavioral and social sciences in the Brown University School of Public Health, added that if a similar number of students were found to be breaking their legs, “we would expect that the community would do something to enhance the safety of the environment.”

The study discovered a widespread amount of sexual violence, with 37% of participants reporting having been raped or attacked by someone who had attempted to rape them at some point between age 14 and their first year in college, writes Tyler Kingkade for The Huffington Post.

Students were found to be the most likely to be victimized during the “red zone” time of their freshman year, a period of time between the beginning of classes and the Thanksgiving break.

Advocates have argued the point for over 20 years, including 2007 research from two midwestern college campuses.

“The challenge we have is the research varies a lot in terms of who is being focused on, and how the target behaviors are defined,” Carey said. “It has been exceedingly difficult to get a hard number because of all this variation in the literature.”

Meanwhile, separate findings from The Department of Justice’s National Crime Victimization Survey (NCVS) found around 0.6% of female college students to have been sexually assaulted.  The results from this survey was created using data taken from 160,000 teens and adults throughout the country.  The survey uses a more broad definition of “college student” that includes many types of individuals, from those living on college campuses to those working full-time taking a course online for college credit.  The survey asks participants if they have been the victim of “rape” or “unwanted sexual activity” in the last six months.

Researchers from the National Research Council, who looked at how information for the NCVS study had been collected, suggest that an overhaul would be beneficial in order to better discover how rapes were occurring.  They suggest a separate study be created for sexual assault in order to separate it from all other crimes discussed in the study, reports Tara Culp-Ressler for ThinkProgress.org.

Wednesday
06 3, 2015
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