According to a recent report, the number of forcible sex crimes more than doubled on college campuses between 2001 and 2013. Alarmingly, sex crimes increased by more than 1,000 in 2013 compared to 2012. This information, as reported May 5, 2016 in The Wall Street Journal, comes from a report by the National Center for Education Statistics, the Bureau of Justice Statistics and the American Institutes for Research.
Why the Increase in Reported Campus Sex Crimes?
The reasons behind the dramatic increase in reported incidents of campus sex crimes are unclear. One strong possibility is that the number of crimes may not be increasing; instead, it may be that victims are choosing to report these crimes at an increasing rate.
Experts have long believed that the number of reported sex crimes is only a fraction of the number that actually take place. In general, many victims do not want to go public. The desire to not go public can stem from many concerns: victims may feel ashamed, they may want to put the crime in the past and not have to think about it again, they may feel that they will not be believed (or that authorities will believe the sex was consensual), or they may have other reasons for not going public.
This is particularly true for sex crimes on college campuses.
In many cases, rape and sex crimes occur in the course of partying and alcohol consumption. Even if a victim knows that she did not provide consent and that she was raped, she likely will also know that questions about her activities on the night of the incident – including drinking – will be closely examined by the defense if the case goes to trial. She also knows that the defense will likely accuse her of consenting, especially if she previously had a friendship or acquaintance with the perpetrator. Sadly, it is this fear and concern which leads victims into not contacting the authorities, which allows sexual predators to continue their crimes.
The Good News
Campus crimes, including rape and sexual assault, are getting more attention than ever on college campuses. Administrations are being held accountable when they fail to protect our students. The students themselves are taking action and protesting against these crimes. We can hope that one day, rape and other sex crimes on campus will be eliminated.