I know nothing about sexual assaults except that for a week on campus we have some kind of “it ends now” campaign which I think is meant to spread awareness about sexual assault, how to deal with it, and how to stop it. But even during that week I don’t really pay much attention since there are other problems to worry about. Also every now and then we get the UR police email saying that there has been a report of a sexual assault but even those don’t warrant much attention. So after doing some research this is what I found.
Sexual assault according to the richmond police definition is “Any type of sexual contact or behavior that occurs by force or without the consent of the recipient of the unwanted sexual activity. It includes sexual acts against people who are unable to consent either due to age or lack of capacity.” This includes rape, dating violence, stalking, and domestic abuse. Looking at UR’s crime report there were 10 forcible sexual assaults in 2013, 8 in 2012, and 13 in 2011. I remember during my orientation when freshman where divided into male and female groups and the guys had to view a presentation that covered sexual assault, what do if it happens to someone you know, or what happened if you are the one doing it. There are also new laws being passed that apply to college campus and sexual assault. One such law is that if a student is under investigation for sexual assult will have it noted on their transcript and if found innocent the notation is removed. This is good because that notation could serious hurt a student if they are innocent. Students should not be automatically condemned just for being accused, people lie all the time. The other laws have more do with how sexual assault is reported. Now it is absolutely required that campus security report a sexual assault to the police. Schools can no longer handle the problem in house.
By looking at the Uniform Crime Report, one of my favorite reports, put out by the FBI I found the whole State of Virginias, rape reports. These are the number of rapes know and not just the arrest record. There were about 3,700 rapes in the state of Virginia. which made up about 44% of crime. In New Jersey, which is my home state, there where about 2000 which was about 25% of crime. Here is the UCR link.
The Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS) defines sexual assault as A wide range of victimizations, separate from rape or attempted rape. These crimes include attacks or attempted attacks generally involving unwanted sexual contact between victim and offender. Sexual assaults may or may not involve force and include such things as grabbing or fondling. It also includes verbal threats. In the US as a whole nearly 295,000 people are the victim of sexual assault or 1 person every 107 seconds. Nearly 45% of victims are under the age of 18 and 80% are under the age of 30. This number is probably a lot higher since many of the crimes go unreported or they happen more than once. Almost 70% of assaults are not reported and most of them are committed by a person the victim knows. Here is where i got the statistics. Fortunately in recent years these numbers do seem to be dropping.
Looking at all theses numbers can be pretty depressing but at the same time it seemed like there where a lot of ways to seek help or get advice about what to do. I think the real problems is not what can we do to help people who are victims because we are doing a lot all ready but what we really need to focus on is getting people to report when an assault happens. If these crimes continue to go unreported that will cause a lot of problems, especially since these crimes are heavily focused on young people. We don’t want theses kids to grow up with this kind baggage. We need to let young people know that they should not be afraid to go to the police and that it is not their fault this is happening to them. If we can boost there confidence and make them feel more secure then hopefully we can help them early on and not let these types of crimes continue.