How Can 20% of Women Be Sexually Assaulted in College if the Reporting Rate Is 12%?

tl;dr: The White House’s report uses the phrase sexual assault when they should have used rape. Twelve-percent of rapes are reported to law enforcement. Twenty-percent of women are sexually assaulted (which includes things besides rape) while in college. The two are not comparable.

I never read George Will, but I do occasionally read Conor Friedersdorf, especially when linked to by Noah Smith.

https://twitter.com/Noahpinion/status/481206550082879488

I don’t care about The Atlantic blog post, but I did go on to read The Washington Post opinion piece and followed the link to The American Enterprise Institutewhich has a blog post about The Obama White House’s sexual assault statements.

In a January 2014 report titled “Rape and Sexual Assault: A Renewed Call to Action” (which led to the creation of the “Task Force to Protect Students From Sexual Assault” headed by Biden), the White House made the following two statements:

White House Statement 1. Sexual assault is a particular problem on college campuses:1 in 5 women has been sexually assaulted while in college.

White House Statement 2. Reporting rates for campus sexual assault are also very low: on average only 12% of student victims report the assault to law enforcement.

I reported previously that there’s a huge, irreconcilable problem here. If the second claim about under-reporting of campus sexual assault is even close to being accurate, it means that nowhere near 1 in 5 women are sexually assaulted while in college.

The first statement by the White House is correct, and holds more-or-less true across a number of surveys. The White House used this one, here’s another (page 8).*

Twelve-percent of sexual assaults being reported sounded extremely high to me and, not because of my own personal feel-feels (unlike George Will and the AEI), but because I’ve read some of the relevant literature.

Unfortunately, I looked at the White House’s report and there it is, on page 14:

Reporting rates for campus sexual assault are also very low: on average only 12% of student victims report the assault to law enforcement. [49]

Luckily, the report cites its sources and because I am not dumb/a well-paid movement conservative/concern troll I bothered to check it out. The source cited is titled: Drug-facilitated, Incapacitated, and Forcible Rape: A National Study. It’s from 2007 and, right there on page 3, it says:

Among college women, about 12% of rapes were reported to law enforcement.

Whoever wrote the White House document made a mistake. Mystery solved.

Conor Friedersdorf’s article should have looked like my article, instead of looking like his. He would be doing a service to humanity.

* 8% said yes to were you sexually touched without your consent in the past 12 months, which would fit most definitions of sexual assault. On page 49, when asked if they have been sexually assaulted, the percentage is 4.2% in the past 12 months.

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About deconstructionapplied

Writer, freelance editor. Former Occupier.
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One Response to How Can 20% of Women Be Sexually Assaulted in College if the Reporting Rate Is 12%?

  1. Pingback: Forcible Rapes at University of Michigan, 2004-2012 | Will Stamp'd

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