Survey Finds College Students Support Mandatory Reporting Policies for Sexual Assault

manciniA new study led by Christina Mancini, an associate professor of criminal justice in the L. Douglas Wilder School of Government and Public Affairs at Virginia Commonwealth University in Richmond, finds that college students overwhelmingly support mandatory reporting policies regarding sexual abuse and violence. Mandatory reporting policies require university employees to report to law enforcement authorities any information they have regarding a possible sexual assault involving a member of the campus community. In most cases, mandatory reporting requires the university employee to inform law enforcement officials even when the victim does not want to report the matter. Critics of such policies say that mandatory reporting will result in victims declining to seek help of any kind in fear that they will be drawn into an embarrassing criminal justice or campus disciplinary procedure.

Dr. Mancini’s research found that two thirds of all college students surveyed supported mandatory reporting. Some 85 percent of students surveyed said they believed faculty and staff members would comply with mandatory reporting requirement.

“Mandatory reporting laws, as currently conceptualized, have the potential to increase university accountability by forcing the occurrence of investigations into allegations,” Dr. Mancini says. “Their recent implementation also appear to prioritize policies to address sexual victimization among a population that rarely reports it.”

Dr. Mancini holds a bachelor’s degree, a master’s degree, and a Ph.D. in criminal justice, all from Florida State University.

The study, “Mandatory Reporting (MR) in Higher Education: College Students’ Perceptions of Laws Designed to Reduce Campus Sexual Assault,” appears in the June issue of Criminal Justice Review. It may be accessed here.

Filed Under: Research/StudySexual Assault/Harassment


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