Report Says Universities Hide Rape Data

Center for Public Integrity finds that colleges' official data may not reflect real rape information.

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A report by the Center for Public Integrity has uncovered some shocking information.

"Sexual Assault on Campus: A Frustrating Search for Justice" outlines the quandaries many students face when involved in sexual assaults, whether it's a moral dilemma with which many victims struggle or the lack of real help from many university or government services. But perhaps the biggest revelation is that many colleges and universities misreport or downplay sexual assault information, which, according to one national study, isn't helped by the fact that 95 percent of students who are sexually victimized do not report the incident to authorities.

Roughly 1 in 5 women who attend college will become the victim of a rape or an attempted rape by the time she graduates, according to a Department of Justice-funded study cited by the CPI report. "But official data from schools themselves doesn't begin to reflect the scope of the problem," the report says.

The CPI published a three-part series of reports detailing the social and institutional barriers that block sexual assault information from making its way into the public spotlight.

The first report, "Sexual Assault on Campus Shrouded in Secrecy," found that victims who come forward can face "mystifying disciplinary proceedings, secretive school administrations, and off-the-record negotiations."

The second report, "Barriers Curb Reporting on Campus Sexual Assault," discusses the numerous measures that universities take to keep themselves safe from fallout after sexual assaults are reported. Experts told the CPI that, as a result, there is a "widespread feeling that justice isn't being served and may not even be worth pursuing."

And the third report, "Campus Sexual Assault Statistics Don't Add Up," documented several schools where official numbers didn't represent the actual number of sexual assaults reported. The report found that "limitations and loopholes in the federal mandatory campus crime reporting law, known as the Clery Act, are causing systematic problems in accurately documenting the total numbers of campus-related sexual assaults."

The findings are both disappointing and sad. We'll keep tabs on what—if any—policy changes are made on campuses.

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