Fall is high season for rape on college campuses because new students haven’t yet learned their geographical and social way, but sexual violence and harassment last all year.
Recent events have raised awareness of the severity of the problem locally and nationally, so my branch of the American Association of University Women scheduled the topic for its October program. I “volunteered” to moderate it, and I’m sharing my preparatory notes here.
One in five women suffer rape in their lifetime. Almost 80% of those victims are raped before the age of 25, and 40% before the age of 18.
Senator Claire McCaskill has led an effort to learn the extent of the problem on campuses in Missouri and around the nation, bring it to administrators’ and the public’s attention, and sponsor the Campus Accountability and Safety Act.
In July 2014, she released the results of the first-ever survey on the topic. Four hundred forty diverse four-year institutions responded. The survey carries validity (I don’t know the margin of error) for colleges around the county.
The survey found that many institutions continually violate the law and fail to follow best practices in nearly every stage of their response to these crimes.
Perhaps that’s why only 5% of the victims report the crime.
The executive summary notes eight areas of concern, including the following highlights.
1. A Lack of Knowledge About the Scope of the Problem
The best way to learn the scope is to conduct climate surveys, but only 16% of the respondents were doing that.
2. A Failure to Encourage Reporting of Sexual Violence
Only half of institutions provided a hotline for survivors, and only 44% provided the option to report sexual assaults online. Roughly 8% did not allow confidential reporting.
3. A Lack of Adequate Sexual Assault Training
More than 20% of institutions provided no sexual assault response training for faculty and staff. More than 30% provided none for students.
4. Reported Sexual Violence Goes Uninvestigated
Despite a federal law, more than 40% of schools had not conducted a single investigation in the past five years. !!!!!
5. A Lack of Adequate Services for Survivors
Only 51% of schools reported offering the diverse services needed. Most institutions also failed to provide access to a Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner.
6. A Lack of Trained, Coordinated Law Enforcement
Law enforcement officials at 30% of institutions received no training on how to respond to reports of sexual violence, and 70% of institutions lacked protocols on how campus and local law enforcement should work together.
7. Adjudication Fails to Comply with Requirements and Best Practices
More than 20% of institutions gave the athletic department oversight of sexual violence cases involving student athletes.
8. Lack of Coordinated Oversight
Institutions are required to name a Title IX coordinator whose responsibilities include coordinating any investigations of sexual harassment and sexual violence. More than 10% did not have a Title IX coordinator.
You can download the full report from http://www.mccaskill.senate.gov/imo/media/doc/SurveyReportwithAppendix.pdf.
And this doesn’t end with college. In researching my next mystery, I ran across some statistics about the long-term effects of sexual violence.
A survey conducted for the Centers for Disease Control found that women and men who experience intimate partner violence, sexual violence, and stalking suffer lasting health effects.
In women, those effects include increased rates of asthma, diabetes, and irritable bowel syndrome.
In men and women, those effects include more instances than other people of frequent headaches, chronic pain, difficulty with sleeping, activity limitations, and poor physical and mental health.
Time to get over the boys-will-be-boys mentality and assault the problem.