These are a few of the headlines that have flooded print and online news sites this year as more colleges found themselves in the spotlight for how they
handle mishandle sexual assault cases among students. You read a few of these articles, and you might convince yourself that being a college student puts you at a greater risk for being raped. After all, 1 in 5 women is sexually assaulted while in college.
Although these headlines and statistics are arguably alarming, the government wants to make one thing clear: Women are not more likely to be sexually assaulted if they're college students. In fact, "Women ages 18 to 24 are more likely to be sexually assaulted if they are not in college than if they are students" (via The Chronicle of Higher Education).
According to the report released by the Bureau of Justice Statistics, "The rate of rape and sexual assault was 1.2 times higher for nonstudents than for students."
However, students are more likely to not report the rape to police. Eighty percent of rape and sexual assault cases among students go unreported, compared to 67 percent of victimizations among nonstudents. Student victims are also more likely than nonstudent victims to state that the incident was not important enough to report.
The fact that students are less likely to report their cases than nonstudents is not surprising. Often on college campuses, student victims experience victim blaming after reporting the crime. And, as we have seen with the dozens of schools accused of mishandling sexual assault cases, many students probably don't trust the administration or police to properly investigate the case.
This report should further encourage colleges and police departments to come up with ways to encourage student victims to report sexual assault crimes. One school that seems to be doing just that is Southern Oregon University. The school joined Ashland, Ore. police to inform sexual-assault victims about the different ways they can report their attacks. The program was praised at a recent senate hearing.