Sexual abuse while in college is a big concern many students have. And rightly so. College sexual abuses have been swept under the rug for decades, but now are front and center for all to see. So much so, that safety is now one of the top factors for students when choosing a college.
Learn the facts
One of the things you’ll learn in college is to follow the facts and come to your own conclusions. These are the current college sexual violence statistics.
- 13% of students experience a type of sexual assault while in college.
- 23% of TGQN (transgender, genderqueer, nonconforming) college students have been sexually assaulted.
Most of the of sexual assaults reported happens between August and November. First year students are particularly vulnerable during this time because they experiencing college social life for the first time.
- More than 90% of sexual assault victims on college campuses do not report the assault.
- 63% of offenders are repeating offenders.
Identify the common causes
It’s important for students to learn the facts, but more importantly, to understand the underlying causes.
While they are many scenarios where sexual abuse takes place, studies have found that about half of sexual assault cases on campus involve a social situation or where either the perpetrator, the victim or both were consuming alcohol. As students adjust to college life, it’s easy for some to feel pressured to drink, consume drugs and party, which poses a potential for campus sexual violence.
Another common situation that makes students vulnerable to sexual violence is being in an unhealthy relationship. In fact, college-aged women (between 16-24) have the highest per capita rate of intimate partner violence. 21% of college students report having experienced dating violence by a current partner, and 32% of college students report experiencing dating violence by a previous partner. 70% of young victims don’t realize they’re being abuse by their partner, those who do know they’re experiencing abuse resist reporting it.
Peer pressure, the presence of drugs and alcohol, stressful schedules, tight-knit friend groups, and social media contribute to higher rates of abuse, sexual assault, and stalking for students. Young people also have limited relationship experience, and often if a high school relationship was at all violent or unhealthy, it is likely that future college relationships will be unhealthy too.
It’s easy to simply recommend avoiding these types of social interactions. But the college experience means also learning to navigate through these tough waters. So, what can a college student do to be safe.
Know the University’s track record
Students should be a higher education institution’s most valuable asset. When applying for a college ask about their track record on handling sexual abuse claims. How many claims have they had in the past years? What was the outcome? What’s the reporting protocol? If they claim they have no claims, it’s probably a lie or they have a huge reporting problem. You’ll want an institution that’s forthcoming with their issues and how they address them. In a brief conversation you’ll get a feel of how serious they take these issues and how comfortable you’ll feel while attending. If you feel they don’t properly protect their students maybe that college isn’t for you.
The U.S. Department of Education put in place Title IX protections, which require colleges and universities to investigate instances of sexual abuse and domestic violence among their students and take care to protect victims from their abusers. Some colleges do the bare minimum, some go above and beyond. A serious institution should have most of the following services/departments. Student Advocacy Services; Relationship Violence and Sexual Assault Prevention; Counseling and Psychological Services; 24-Hour Crisis Line, Police Liaison and more.
Combat the issue: Use Aware
There are many ways you can protect yourself. Here are some tips:
- Choose your friends wisely.
- Lock your doors.
- Attend safety classes and review training videos.
- Be aware of your surroundings.
- Use the buddy system.
- Avoid drinking in excess using drugs.
- Carry a cell phone.
- Sign up for alerts.
- Ask for help when needed.
- Get to know the campus safety office.
- Take precautions after dark.
- Keep things on lockdown.
- Be smart on social media.
- Be careful getting into your car.
- Have a plan.
- Pay attention to crime rates and trends.
- Learn how to defend yourself.
- Use Aware App
We also recommend you download and use the Aware App. This is an App that tells you the crime trends and alerts you of dangerous areas. You can track friends, get recommendations, rate areas, verify people and talk to a safety agent when you feel unsafe. Best part, its FREE. It’s a great tool to keep you and your loved ones safe.
It behooves colleges and universities to provide Aware to their students as well. The Clery Act requires colleges that receive federal funding to disclose crime statistics that happen on, adjacent to, or within campus. Aware allows colleges to comply with this Act as intendent providing students with a real time tool of crime reports in the area.
Using Aware also reduces the college’s general liability greatly. Now a days the average cost to the university per each sexual abuse claim is over $350,000 dollars. Institutions have been held liable for millions of dollars and have been hit with punitive damages for not taking preventive steps to protect their students. Having a tool like Aware shows they go the extra mile to protect their students, reduce claims and avoid the bad publicity related to these events.
If you are a student or a concerned parent, download Aware. It’s free and will help you be a little safer and enjoy your college experience.
If you are a higher education institution, contact us to become a partner. It’s a very simple and cost-effective way to keep your students safe and differentiate from other competitors. We’ll even put a pilot program for free for you to test it out. Drop us a line.