The National Increase in Reported Campus Sexual Assaults

The latest federal study on crime and safety in schools (at all levels), Indicators of School Crime and Safety: 2016, is now available from the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES), “the primary federal entity for collecting, analyzing, and reporting data related to education in the United States and other nations.” A portion of the report concerns sexual assaults on campus (beginning on page 121), and in tables after the narrative. I’ve embedded the full document, below.

The report (pg. 122) makes plain the large national increase in reported campus sexual assaults:

The number of reported forcible sex crimes on campus increased from 2,200 in 2001 to 6,700 in 2014 (a 205 percent increase).

Focusing on more recent data years, the number of reported forcible sex crimes increased by 34 percent between 2013 and 2014 (from 5,000 to 6,700). It should be noted that data on reported forcible sex offenses were collected differently in 2014 than in prior years. In 2014, schools were asked to report the numbers of two different types of forcible sex offenses, rape and fondling, and these were added together to reach the total number of reported forcible sex offenses. In years prior to 2014, schools only reported a total number of reported forcible sex offenses, with no breakouts for specific types of offenses. About 4,400 rapes and 2,300 fondling incidents were reported in 2014.

(Writing about the reported increase in the Daily Beast, Lizzie Crocker (who has reported previously on campus sexual assault) considers a few points: (1) numbers may be higher now because campus assaults are more frequently reported, (2) the federal data do not, necessarily, “confirm the campus rape epidemic narrative perpetuated by high profile cases like that of convicted rapist Brock Turner and Alec Cook, who was recently expelled from the University of Wisconsin after being charged with sexually assaulting multiple women,” but (3) “[b]ecause sexual assault is one of the most underreported crimes, some advocates say that these figures likely underestimate the prevalence of sexual assault on campus.” Crocker’s article also mentions recent, relevant studies on the matter and the claims derived from them.)

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