Rates of sexual assaults among college students, by gender orientation

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This is just over a year old but just came across my desk. The study is: Sexual Assault Victimization Among Straight, Gay/Lesbian, and Bisexual College Students by Jessie Ford and Jose Soto-Marquez, Violence and Gender, June 2016.

From the abstract:

…this study investigates both the prevalence of sexual assault and its associated factors for straight, bisexual, and gay individuals. Our analyses use data from the Online College Social Life Survey (OCSLS), which is a cross-sectional survey of 21,000 students. As has been widely reported from previous studies, we find that around one in every four heterosexual women experience sexual assault after four years in college. We also find that gay and bisexual men report sexual assault at frequencies similar to those reported by heterosexual women. Bisexual women were the most vulnerable to sexual assault in college, as nearly two out of every five bisexual female college students had experienced sexual assault after four years in college. Greek life (e.g., membership in fraternities or sororities) proved to be strongly associated with higher prevalence of sexual assault for most groups of students. Sexual assault survivors also reported having participated in their college hookup culture at higher levels. We hope that these findings will help university administrators and counseling centers more adequately address and reduce sexual assault for all groups of students on college campuses.

The main result is clearly seen in these two graphics (pay attention to the Y-axes):

The maximum rate of assault among straight college students in this study is 25%, which is alarmingly high, but that number for females is much larger than the rate for straight males. Meanwhile, the rates for the non-straight groups ranges up to over 35%, and is generally higher than for straight students.

The study concludes,

…we believe that, given the potential wide variability of college sexual assault from college to college, colleges experiencing high rates of sexual assault complaints should try to conduct their own campus-wide survey to better estimate its overall incidence on campus, as more than two dozen universities from Harvard to the University of Southern California have already done …

…we believe that colleges with active Greek systems must establish effective intervention trainings and proper oversight with fraternities and sororities on their campuses. As we have found, it was not only women in sororities who were at risk of sexual assault, but heterosexual and gay male fraternity members as well. It seems that all members of the Greek system could benefit from increased prevention efforts focused on this group. Our findings also present evidence that sexual assault is embedded within the college party and hookup scene. Hence, prevention efforts that target students who frequently attend parties and hook up may be more effective.

…we strongly endorse a multifaceted intervention strategy that specifically targets LGB students, because these students showed markedly high rates of sexual assault in our study. Campus policy measures and interventions will likely be more successful if they acknowledge the diversity of college students who experience sexual assault, as well as the ways college social and romantic life may function to increase the risk of assault.

Ultimately, we hope that a better understanding of the percentage of reported sexual assault on campus and characteristics associated with victimization will help university administrators and counseling centers adequately continue to address and eventually reverse the increasing trend of sexual assault on college campuses across the country.

Now in Kindle, Soon in Print:


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