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Washington, D.C. Personal Injury Blog

Friday, February 22, 2013

College Campuses Are Unsafe for Women

     On the Fox News show, “The Five” Bob Beckel, one of the show’s co-hosts actually doubted the occurrence of rape on college campuses. His exact quote was: “When was the last time you heard about a rape on campus?” I thought I would take a moment to share with you some of the alarming statistics concerning the likelihood of a women being a victim of rape on an American college campus. In 2010, the United States Department of Justice estimated that 25 percent of college women "will be victims of rape or attempted rape before they graduate within a four-year college period." It also noted that women "between the ages of 16 to 24 will experience rape at a rate that's four times higher than the assault rate of all women." And, it said, schools with more than 6,000 students "average one rape per day during the school year.” According to New York University's National Statistics about Sexual Violence on College Campuses, fewer than 5 percent of such cases are reported to law enforcement. The following statistics were compiled by the New York State Coalition Against Sexual Assault

• At least 1 in 4 college women will be the victim of a sexual assault during her academic career.

• At least 80% of all sexual assaults are committed by an acquaintance of the victim. Bureau of Justice Statistics, 2001

• 48.8% of college women who were victims of attacks that met the study’s definition of rape did not consider what happened to them rape. Bureau of Justice Stats. “Sexual Victimization of Collegiate Women” 2000, US DOJ.

• More than 70% of rape victims knew their attackers, compared to about half of all violent crime victims.

• There are 35.3 incidents of sexual assault per 1,000 female students on a campus as recorded over a 6.91 month period (the academic year of ‘96 – ’97) as reported in the 2000 Department of Justice Bureau of Justice Statistics report “The Sexual Victimization of College Women.”

• On average, at least 50% of college students’ sexual assaults are associated with alcohol use. Within the study’s nationally represented sample of college students the results found that 74% of perpetrators and 55% of rape victims had been drinking alcohol prior to the assault.

• In a survey of high school students, 56% of girls and 76% of boys [some of whom may be incoming college freshmen] believed forced sex was acceptable under some circumstances. Acquaintance Rape: The Hidden Crime, 1991.

     Last April, Vice President Joseph Biden and Secretary of Education Arne Duncan introduced comprehensive guidance to help schools, colleges and universities better understand their obligations under federal civil rights laws to prevent and respond to the problem of campus sexual assault. The new guidance, makes clear the legal obligations under Title IX of any school, college or university receiving federal funds to respond promptly and effectively to sexual violence. The guidance also provides practical examples to aid educators in ensuring the safety of their students. Under Title IX – a federal civil rights law that prohibits discrimination on the basis of sex in education programs and activities – discrimination can include sexual violence, such as rape, sexual assault, sexual battery and sexual coercion. The guidance, the first specifically advising schools, colleges and universities that their responsibilities under Title IX include protecting students from sexual violence, also details enforcement strategies that schools and the Department’s Office for Civil Rights (OCR) may use to end sexual violence, prevent its recurrence, and remedy its effects. Young women aged 16-24 experience the highest rates of rape and sexual assault, while 1 in 5 will be a victim of sexual assault during college.

     Rape is a horrible violent crime against women. Victims of sexual assault are more likely to suffer academically and more likely to become depressed and suffer post-traumatic stress disorder, to abuse alcohol and drugs, and to contemplate suicide. The harm rape causes is long lasting and deeply emotional. If a rape occurs on a college campus, what are a school’s obligations under Title IX regarding sexual violence?

• First the school must notify law enforcement officials and cooperate fully in disclosing the identity and circumstances of the assault. • Once a school knows of a possible sexual violence, it must take immediate and appropriate action to investigate or otherwise determine what occurred.

• If sexual violence has occurred, a school must take prompt and effective steps to end the sexual violence, prevent its recurrence, and address its effects, whether or not the sexual violence is the subject of a criminal investigation.

• A school must take steps to protect the complainant as necessary, including interim steps taken prior to the final outcome of the investigation.

• A school must provide a grievance procedure for students to file complaints of sex discrimination, including complaints of sexual violence.

     We have been successful in representing women who have been the victims of violent sexual assaults. If you or a loved one has been the victim of a sexual assault either at a school, college campus, hotel, or even at your job please don’t hesitate to contact my firm.

Stay Safe.

Richard F. Silber, Esquire


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Richard F. Silber is admitted to practice in Washington, D.C. and Maryland. From his office in Georgetown, he and his legal team assist clients throughout the Washington metropolitan area.



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