Almost 90% of college campuses reported zero rapes in 2015, according to a new report from the American Association of University Women, and something is just not adding up here.
We're obviously skeptical about the accuracy of these statistics, given that the National Sexual Violence Resource Center (NSVRC) reports that one in five women will be sexually assaulted in college, as well as one in 16 men, and that statistics from the Rape, Abuse, & Incest National Network (RAINN) report about 23% of college women and 5% of college men "experience rape or sexual assault through physical force, violence, or incapacitation," as have 21% of transgender or gender nonconforming students.
The idea that 89% of the about 11,000 campuses included in the report actually had no rapes or sexual assaults is ridiculous, and that fact isn't lost on the researchers who collected the data.
The researchers say that these numbers "indicate that the annual statistics collected by colleges and universities still do not tell the full story of sexual violence on campus," and that the schools that reported no sexual assaults "have work to do." The stats come from colleges reporting crime data as per The Clery Act, with requires colleges and universities to "provide transparency around campus crime policy and statistics."
It may be terrible to think that schools that don't have any evidence of rape are failing students instead of somehow protecting their students from any and all instances of sexual violence, but this is the reality. Knowing how pervasive rape culture can be on college campuses, it's clear that these schools don't have necessary methods in place for survivors to feel safe reporting their assaults.
In fact, the schools that do report sexual violence on campus are likely safer for students, because it indicates previous students have felt safe going to campus officials for help.
"The extraordinarily high number of zeros suggests some students continue to feel uncomfortable coming forward to report such incidents at some schools," the researchers said in the study. "This should be a cause for concern for colleges and universities. Schools must take an honest look at their processes: Do they facilitate accurate data collection, welcome reporting, provide resources and training to support survivors, and disclose statistics correctly? If not, reforms must be made."
Rape is the most underreported crime, according to the NSVRC, and RAINN reports that only about 20% of survivors on college campuses report their assaults.
"Smart schools will [sic] include students, faculty, staff, and community partners" in efforts to train the campus community on topics like consent, sexual violence, and the school's policies about reporting assaults, the researchers say. Those efforts may encourage more survivors to seek help, and work to ensure that reports like this actually reflect the harassment many students face on campus.
If you have experienced sexual violence and are in need of crisis support, please call the RAINN Sexual Assault Hotline at 1-800-656-HOPE (4673).
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