The Rising Plague of Sexual Assault on College Campuses

A new report from the U.S. Department of Education offers a detailed look at crime and safety on college and university campuses. These numbers include data on sexual assaults.

At the postsecondary level, a total of 27,300 criminal incidents against persons and property on campuses of postsecondary institutions were reported to police and security agencies in 2019. Among the various types of on-campus crimes reported in 2019, 43 percent — or 8.0 incidents per 10,000 students — were forcible sex offenses.

Between 2009 and 2019, the overall number of reported on-campus crimes decreased by 20 percent. But despite the general downward trend over this period, the rate for forcible sex offenses increased from 1.7 incidents per 10,000 students in 2009 to 8.0 incidents per 10,000 students in 2019.

Although changes in the reporting guidelines for forcible sex offenses in 2014 likely contributed to the largest single-year percentage increase in that year (36 percent, from 5,000 to 6,800 incidents), the number of reported forcible sex offenses on campus continued to increase steadily between 2014 and 2018, from 6,800 to 12,400 incidents (an 83 percent increase, or an average increase of about 16 percent per year). It must be noted that some of this increase may be due to a greater willingness of students to report sexual assaults to campus or law enforcement authorities than was the case in the past.

The good news is that forcible sex offenses declined by 5 percent iin 2019. And there was probably a huge decrease in 2020 because many students were not on campus due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Filed Under: Research/StudySexual Assault/Harassment

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