Reports of Campus Sexual Assault Have Tripled in the Past Decade, According to New Government Study

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A new government report on crime and safety in schools. Photo: Chris Hopkins/Getty Images

Reports of sexual assaults on college campuses have tripled in the past ten years, while bullying in middle and high schools remains a major issue affecting one in five students, according to a new federal study.

As the Associated Press reports, a new study from the National Center for Education Statistics and the Justice Department shines a light on school crime and safety. According to the study, reports of sexual assault on college campuses in the U.S. increased from 2,200 in 2001 to 6,700 in 2014, though it’s unclear whether more assaults are occurring or if victims now feel safer reporting them to authorities. Additionally, although bullying rates have slightly declined over the past decade, 21 percent of students between the ages of 12 and 18 reported being bullied in 2015.

“There are areas of concern in terms of bullying and rates of victimization being high,” study co-author Lauren Musu-Gillette told the AP. “We are seeing a long term decline, but we still want people to be paying attention to areas where rates are still high.”

Furthermore, 34 percent of students who identify as LGBT reported feeling bullied, compared to only 19 percent of students who identified as heterosexual. “It’s a high number and a disproportionate number in comparison. We still have a lot of homophobic bias and it plays itself in schools,” Charol Shakeshaft, an education professor at Virginia Commonwealth University, told the AP. “Those students are singled out and isolated and harassed.”

The government report also found that during the 2013–2014 school year, 65 percent of public schools reported at least one violent incident, according to the AP. Of that number, less than 2 percent of those crimes were sexual battery and 0.2 percent were either rape or attempted rape, showing that sexual misconduct at schools remains an issue. It also showed that black students are being disproportionately disciplined compared to other students: In 2012, 15 percent of black students received out-of-school suspensions, as compared to 6 percent of all students, the AP notes.

Peggy Carr, acting commissioner of the NCES, told the AP, “There is much work left to be done. The data show that many students do not feel safe at school and are victimized physically, verbally and emotionally.”

Campus Sexual Assaults Up, While Bullying is Still an Issue