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School Safety Topics

Sexual Assault, Harassment & Date Rape

Acquaintance rape. Stranger rape. Drug-induced rape. Sexual battery. Partner Violence. Stalking. Indecent Exposure. Sexual Harassment. Sexual victimization is a significant threat on college campuses, in Maryland and nationwide. And if you think that women exclusively are victims, you'd be wrong.

Understanding the Issue

The sex crime situation on college campuses is a bad news/good news scenario. On one hand, the numbers have been increasing in recent years. However, students are being strongly encouraged to report these incidents, which traditionally have gone significantly under-reported. It appears to be working, but much more needs to be done in terms of mitigation and prevention.

National Domestic Violence Hotline: 1-800-799-7233

  • What is the prevalence of sexual assault on campuses?
    In 2012, 71 forcible-sex offenses, which include rape and other sexual assaults, were reported at Maryland's four- and two-year colleges. About 20 fewer sexual assaults were reported in 2010, but a review of the past decade shows that the number typically ranges from about 45 to 65 annually. (Source: Baltimore Sun, May 5, 2014)

    School officials and others familiar with the issue say colleges with rising totals of sex-offense reports should not be perceived as being more dangerous than before. Rather, they say, the numbers mean that more students are stepping forward to get help. Also, schools are documenting the problem more thoroughly than ever, educating students about preventing sexual assault and developing procedures to handle complaints. (Source: Washington Post, November 5, 2014)
  • What are some assault prevention tips for women?
    Following are crime prevention tips for women from Towson University:
    • Avoid giving out your home phone number to strangers, as online services enable individuals to find your home address from this number.
    • On first dates, consider meeting your date at a public location rather than your home. Get to know someone before you show them where you live.
    • Declare your sexual limits early on, prior to drinking, doing drugs or getting into sexual situations.
    • Drink responsibly and never leave your drink unattended. Drugs and alcohol make staying in control of a situation difficult.
    • Trust your instincts. If you sense something is wrong, remove yourself from the situation. It’s better to be safe than sorry.
    • Be street smart. Travel in safe, known areas. Wear comfortable shoes that allow you to move quickly. Don’t carry too many things at once – it can block your view and make you appear defenseless.
    • When exercising outdoors, go with a friend and avoid listening to music so loud that you can’t hear things around you. Vary your routine to prevent criminals from knowing exactly where they can find you.
    • Drive with your doors locked and windows rolled up. Always make sure you have enough gas to get where you are going, and keep your car in good working order. If you break down, turn on your flashers, call the police and stay in your car. If someone approaches offering to help, speak to them through a cracked window and wait for the police. Don’t take a chance.
    • If pulled over by an unmarked car, signal to the officer that you intend to comply, and then attempt to find a safe, public place to stop. Lock your doors and speak to the officer through a cracked window until he shows you a valid ID card complete with a photograph.
    • When entering your home, make sure to have your key ready and note the conditions of the home. If a door or window is ajar, or the home seems to be in a different condition than you left it, leave the house and call the police.
    • Try to avoid entering an elevator alone or with a single male rider. Stand near the control panel and note the location of the emergency alarm button. If attacked hit the alarm and as many floor buttons as you can.
  • Why is "date rape" such a problem on campus?
    Stranger rape of college students is less common than acquaintance rape. Nearly nine out of ten college women who are victims of rape or attempted rape know their assailant. The attacker is usually a classmate, friend, boyfriend, ex-boyfriend, or other acquaintance, in that order.

    Most acquaintance rapes do not occur on dates; rather they occur when two people are otherwise in the same place (e.g., at a party, studying together in a dorm room). Thus, "date rape" (rape that occurs during or at the end of a date) is not the appropriate term to describe the majority of acquaintance rapes of college women, as date rapes account for only 13 percent of college rapes (although they make up 35 percent of attempted rapes).

    Gang rape of college women (multiple men taking turns raping a woman) is also a problem, although to a lesser extent than even date rape.

    (Source: Center for Problem-Oriented Policing)
  • What about domestic violence (a.k.a., partner violence) on campus?
    Partner violence is a very real and potentially deadly threat on college campuses. College-aged women experience a higher rate of partner violence than any other age group. Thirteen percent of college women say they have been stalked, according to the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence.

    Of college students who have been sexually assaulted, 35 percent of them were assaulted while on a date. Six in 10 acquaintance rapes on college campuses occur in dating relationships. That’s why preventing nonsexual partner violence is often approached in the same manner as preventing sexual assault on college campuses, said Lisa Maatz, vice president of government relations at the American Association of University Women. In fact, many prevention methods for sexual assault, she said, are based on methods previously created for preventing domestic abuse. (Source: Deadly Dating Violence, Inside Higher Ed, December 2, 2014)

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