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Nearly 25% of U.S. Female Undergrads Sexually Assaulted

Patrick Murray1 year ago

The Association of American Universities (AAU) released a survey this Monday presenting data on sexual assault on American Institutes of Higher Education (IHE).

About the Survey

The AAU developed the survey with the intent of providing institutions a solid foundation of knowledge to assist in forming policies and combating sexual assault and sexual misconduct.

The survey was administered to students at 27 IHEs at the end of the spring semester of 2015. The questions on the survey touched on a myriad of topics, including perception of risk, knowledge of resources available to victims, and perception of reactions to an incident of sexual assault or misconduct.

About the Results

  • A total of 11.7% of respondents (female, male, other) reported an experience of nonconsensual sexual contact by force, threat of force, and/or incapacitation since enrolling at their IHE.
  • A total of 23.1% of female respondents reported such an experience.
  • A total of 5.1% of male respondents reported such an experience.
  • 10.8% of the females who reported such an experience were victims of penetration as well.
  • Reporting of incidents was very low, ranging from 5% to 28%, depending on the type of assault or misbehavior.
  • There were many reasons for not reporting incidents, including
    • The incident was not serious enough
    • Embarrassment, feeling ashamed, or emotional difficulty
    • Feeling like nothing would be done
  • About 63.3% of students responding felt that something would be done if an experience of sexual assault or misconduct was reported.
Notes Concerning the Results

Researchers did note the strong possibility of non-response bias, meaning that students who did not have any experiences of sexual assault or misconduct were less likely not to respond. While this may have affected the final results of the study, the findings are no less significant or reliable.

There were two, while not very surprising, key findings made by the AAU. First, that drugs and alcohol were a relevant factor in a significant portion of incidents. Second, more than half of victims of even the most serious of offences (rape via forced penetration) felt that they did not need to report the incident because it was “not serious enough.”

A positive note about the results is that a majority of students believe that their IHE would take a report of sexual assault or misconduct very seriously and that a fair investigation would be conducted.

It must also be noted that males can also be victims of sexual misconduct, sexual assault, and rape.


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