The Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS), the National Center for Education Statistics and the American Institutes for Research released a report at the beginning of May which detailed new findings on the issue of campus sexual assault.
The report, titled “Indicators of School Crime and Safety 2015,” found that while the number of reported crimes has dropped across college campuses nationwide, the number of sexual assaults has significantly increased. Campus sexual assaults jumped from about 4,000 in 2012 to 5,000 in 2013.
While the numbers are troubling, Christopher Krebs, a chief scientist at nonprofit research organization RTI International, who studies sexual assaults on campuses, said,“It’s just not possible to know whether rates went up or simply rates of reporting went up.”
As is widely reported, it is hard to distinguish if the number of reported sexual assaults has increased because there’s an increase in incidents or an increased sense of safety that encourages survivors to come forward.
In May 2015, Senator Gillibrand (D-NY) and Senator Boxer (D-CA) released data that mirrored that of the BJS, stating how instrumental media attention and grassroots movements have been to the campus sexual assault awareness movement.
In their report, the senators found that there had been an increase from 3,264 sexual assaults reported in 2009 to 6,016 reported in 2013.
“We believe this increase is the result in the increase in federal enforcement efforts, as well as the growing public attention paid to the issue of campus sexual assault,” states the report.
The Obama administration has been adamant in tying public awareness efforts with policy on the issue of campus sexual assault. Since 2014, Vice President Biden has led It’s On Us, a movement that calls for students across college campuses to become active bystanders.
Currently, national statistics find that 1 in 5 women will be sexually assaulted during their time in college. Of those women less than 5 percent will report their incidents of sexual assault for various reasons, one often being the culture on campus that they fear would ostracize or harm them.