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Are Sexual Assault Incidents on College Campuses on the Rise or Has Awareness Just Increased among students

Sexual Assault on Campus Students

Sexual assault in colleges has become rampant over the past decade a hike that researchers attribute to the growing awareness of the problem which has allowed more victims to come forward. It is clear that the sexual assault crime is one that is very underreported. This essay will address the question has sexual assaults increased on college campuses or is it just the awareness of the problem that has increased?

The white house task force to protect college students from assault’s first report(2014) showed that 1 in every 5 students has been sexually assaulted during their college career. 16.9% by an intimate partner(including current and former spouses, opposite sex and same sex cohabiting, boyfriends/girlfriends and dates), 21.3% by an acquaintance, 16.7% by a stranger and 6.5% by a relative other than the spouse. Some victims had multiple assaults. According to the research, only 2% of victimized college women report to the police. The most frequent reasons being they did not think it was serious enough, others felt ashamed, feared they’d be held responsible or didn’t want anyone to know what happened.

In her book Dianne Hales shows a table  by the college Health Assosiation, America College Health Association-National College Health Assessment II: Reference Group Executive summary Fall 2012-2013

Male% Female%
A physical fight 10.5 3.4
A physical assault(non-sexual) 5.1 3.4
A verbal threat 25.1 15.1
Sexual touching without their consent 3.2 7.3
Sexual penetration attempt without their consent 1.1 3.4
Sexual penetration without their consent 0.9 1.9
stalking 3.5 6.5


The same research also showed that at day time only 89.7% of males and 86.8% of females felt safe in their campus and at night the number dropped to 53.8% of males and 28.7% of females.

According to Matt Rocheleau, last year the sexual assaults reported in colleges were 289  which compares  to 206 in 2012 which was 5 times more in the past five years. Research clearly shows that sexual assaults have rampantly increased over the past few years each year cases being more than the last. However, maybe  it is not the cases that have increased its just the awareness. With increased awareness of sexual assaults their consequences on the assailant there is bound to be increased number of reports (Police Chief Barbara O’Connor). A higher number of reports show that more and more students are becoming aware of their rights and are feeling more comfortable to come forward and report but the high number of reports also indicates that many are still being victimized. Measures need to be taken to educate students on ways to protect themselves (like walking in well-lit routes), where to report in case of an assault and where to access the medical attention required after rape or physical assault.

An article by Aimee Hirsch where University Police Chief John Rossi was interviewed he says that there is no way to measure how, when or where the offences are occurring but one major cause is alcohol abuse by either the proprietor or the victim. 75% of men and 55% of women are taking alcohol or drugs before the rape occurs. The use of alcohol and drugs creates a gray area because statistics show that up to 37% of students consume alcohol prior to being sexually active. Alcohol too has been shown to have its effects on the brain, maybe someone may confuse a yes with a no, or it just maybe a wrong choice one wouldn’t make when sober. Alcohol and drugs make it tricky to judge whether it was rape or not. However law states that a person who is drunk, drugged or otherwise incapacitated cannot consent to sex which means drunken consent is not considered as consent.

Awareness allows individuals to know instances of sexual abuse and enables one to know that they are not the only ones experiencing it and it is okay to report the offender and get the needed help to overcome the trauma. Awareness teaches students to know their alcohol limits, watch their drinks when they go to the washrooms, to trust their gut feeling when it warns them of danger and to always stick with their friends and to walk in groups instead of just one person, and also to seek counseling when one has undergone rape or assault.(Best College).


Sexual assault has been in existence in colleges since time e memorial. The awareness to the issue, its effects, where to report, how to recognize assault and how to prevent it; has brought about the large number of reports currently being witnessed. It’s not that the assaults have increased. the large number of reports each year indicate that more and more people are now aware of their rights and therefore it  gives them more freedom no report assaults.

Colleges have also put up measures that are simpler to follow and possibly more anonymous which allows college students who have been assaulted to feel its is not their fault and what has happened to them doesn’t have to happen to any one else. So to answer the question “has sexual assault in campuses increased or is it the awareness of the issue that has increased”, the answer is no sexual assaults have not increased but the awareness has increased the number of victims who are reporting assault.


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