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Monday, December 22, 2014

Vulnerability to Sexual Assault

For John, BLUFTeaching both sons and daughters about proper sexual behavior is an important step in limiting sexual assault.  Nothing to see here; just move along.

My Middle Brother, Lance, and I have been batting back and forth the issue of rape on campus.  We both have daughters who went to College.  As is often the case, the lens we view things through often distorts reality.  The recent article in Rolling Stone, now discredited, on gang rape at UVA, and the California Assembly passing a "Yes means Yes" bill makes it look like Rape is a Collegiate issue.

This Opinion Piece in The International New York Times, by Ms Callie Marie Rennisondec, "Privilege, Among Rape Victims:  Who Suffers Most From Rape and Sexual Assault in America?" looks at some such assumptions.

LATELY, people have been bombarded with the notion that universities and colleges are hotbeds of sexual violence. Parents fear that sending their teenagers to school is equivalent to shipping them off to be sexually victimized.

But the truth is, young women who don’t go to college are more likely to be raped.  Lynn A. Addington at American University and I recently published a study based on the Department of Justice’s National Crime Victimization Survey data from 1995 to 2011.  We found that the estimated rate of sexual assault and rape of female college students, ages 18 to 24, was 6.1 per 1,000 students.  This is nothing to be proud of, but it is significantly lower than the rate experienced by women that age who don’t attend college — eight per 1,000.  In other words, these women are victims of sexual violence at a rate around 30 percent greater than their more educated counterparts.

As an aside, as Law Professor Glenn Harlan Reynolds frequently points out, it is not just the parents of young women who have concerns.  The parents of young men should be very concerned about the extrajudicial proceedings dealing with campus sexual assault.  Your son could be thrown out of college based on an accusation that was not ventilated by the standards of justice we would expect to be given to the lowest reprobate.

The statistics show a different picture.

Women in the lowest income bracket, with annual household incomes of less than $7,500, are sexually victimized at 3.7 times the rate of women with household incomes of $35,000 to $49,999, and at about six times the rate of women in the highest income bracket (households earning $75,000 or more annually).  Homeownership is another example of how economic advantage serves to protect women from sexual violence.  Woman living in rented properties are sexually victimized at 3.2 times the rate of women living in homes that they or a family member own.
Married women are less likely to be raped, and interestingly enough, women without children are less likely to be raped that those with children. Then there is education.  (Of course, education is correlated with family income, home ownership and other factors.)
Finally, we can look at educational attainment and the risk of sexual violence.  Women without a high school diploma are sexually victimized at a rate 53 percent greater than women with a high school diploma or some college, and more than 400 percent greater than those with a bachelor’s degree or more.
Like a lot of social issues, sexual assault is a complicated issue.

Regards  —  Cliff

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