Good News/Bad News for Women in College
Recently, there’s been a lot of talk about sexual assault on college campuses.
“1 in 4/5!”
Well, there is good news and bad news for all students on campus who care about this sort of thing.
The “1-in-5 female students” statistic is probably bullsquirt.
The most recent study providing these numbers is the 2007 Campus Sexual Assault Study conducted by the Justice Department’s National Institute of Justice (yeah, apparently that’s a thing). Social science is already an iffy proposition but the CSAS suffers from a few dubious acts of research.
- The survey was conducted at only two college campuses.
- It was also conducted online; web-based surveys have much lower response rates than other surveys, such as face-to-face interviews.
- Definition of “sexual assault” was broadened to include “sexual touching”, lesser acts such as forcible kissing and fondling.
One of the study’s coauthors actually wrote that “there are caveats that make it inappropriate to use the number as a baseline when discussing rape and sexual assault on campus.”
Rape still happens on college campuses.
Whatever the numbers are, high or low, when rape occurs it is still horrible. One is too many.
False reports only make the situation worse.
Unfortunately, in recent years some of the most famous rape cases are ones in which the crime did not occur. For example, several members of the Duke LaCrosse team were accused of rape by a woman some years ago; the end result was that the team members were acquitted, the prosecutor disbarred for prosecutorial misconduct, and the “victim” is currently serving time for second-degree murder.
Commonly cited problems in prosecuting sexual crimes is the inability of victims to get police or members of the community to take accusations seriously. When false accusations are made, it is the real victims who will face a society made skeptical by lies—and suffer for it.
Furthermore, what of the falsely accused? A stigma follows them throughout their lives, only lessened by distance or time, while the accuser who knowingly files false claims with police and campus authorities often gets lauded for “courage.”
Rape can only be fought with the truth and the encouragement for women—victims and otherwise—to defend themselves.