The College Sexual Assault Epidemic


There is very little exaggeration in calling sexual assault and rape epidemics in colleges and universities across the country (and the world, but let’s not get too broad). Every single day a new story or development breaks on a new case of sexual assault and/or rape. What we don’t see frequently enough, however, is justice for the victims of these crimes.

To address the overwhelming flood of news The Huffington Post launched a new addition to their College subsection, “Breaking the Silence.” In this new area of HuffPost College they are able to cover all of the latest in sexual assault and rape on campuses nationwide.

The stories have been all over social media and news outlets across the web. It would be redundant to list all of the tragic stories again, because as a society we’ve become accustomed to getting upset over news and then ultimately doing nothing. It’s almost as if we enjoy the routine of shock, then sadness and/or anger, then disappointment in humanity, which then eventually leads to people forgetting or moving on.

These events need to be thought of as a collective attack on women. It doesn’t just happen in college, and we all know that the number of reported cases does not include the population of folks who never report what has been done to them.

The Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network (RAINN) provides statistics that speak the hard truth of the issues of sexual assault and rape. While some of the studies are a few years old or more, the statistics can still shed light onto the culture we live in today (unless someone feels qualified to argue that things have somehow significantly improved over the years).

Approximately 2/3 of rapes were committed by someone known to the victim.” These aren’t random strangers jumping a victim on the street. These are criminals who know the victim, in one way or another, and had no qualms about violating and hurting them.

9 out of every 10 rape victims were female in 2003.” The sad reality is that women are far more affected by sexual assault and rape than men.

Other sources like One In Four, which is named for the percentage of women that have survived rape or attempted rape, also shares chilling facts.

“One in four college women report surviving rape (15 percent) or attempted rape (12 percent) since their fourteenth birthday.” This reinforces the fact that rape is a huge problem both before and during a young woman’s college years.

However, the biggest problem with sexual assault and rape lies with the perpetrators. “99% of people who rape are men….” Simply, sexual assault and rape are a male problem, not a female problem.

What’s even more tragic than the shocking statistics is that the torture for victims often goes beyond the crime itself, extending to the injustice they suffer upon reporting any incident(s). This in itself presents a long-lived crime against women, in which they fight within systems that are not concerned with their liberty or well being.

HuffPost Associate Editor Tyler Kingkade created a map showing all of the colleges that have been accused of mishandling sexual assault cases.

One of the main problems with this epidemic is that people often believe cases are isolated and done only by bad and evil boys. Absolutely the perpetrators are monsters. There is no doubt about that. Not even a little bit. However, when did these children turn into monsters capable of committing these crimes?

As adults, even young adults, we have both the ability and responsibility to make our own decisions. However, as children all we can do is learn and absorb the thoughts and ideologies around us (and either go with them or oppose them).

When it comes to children and youth we spend a great deal of time talking about safety and sexual risks with young women. We warn them about the clothes they wear. We warn them about keeping their wits about them at all times. We treat rape and sexual assault as if they are inevitable parts of our society. I, for one, refuse to accept this.

As previously mentioned, boys make up nearly the entire pool of rapists in this country. So logic would tell us that we should be having important conversations with our boys and not our girls. Instead of telling girls to not put themselves in positions where they could be raped, we should be telling our boys not to rape.

It shouldn’t be that complicated. Parenting and mentorship obviously does not guarantee that boys will not rape, but it will begin a shift in our culture where we actually hold boys responsible for their actions. We’d be treating them like human beings and not animals. No longer will we consume the “boys will be boys” ideology that equates a young woman exposing her skin around men to a person walking into a lion’s den with meat all over themselves.

This education is not meant to tell boys that they’re bad. In fact, it’s quite the opposite. This ideology encourages both society and the boys themselves to see them as equally intelligent, and emotional creatures as their female counterparts.

The epidemic of sexual assault and rape on college campuses needs to start real conversations with kids before they go to college, and with current college students and adults alike.

This problem and more won’t go away on their own. If we want to make this world a better place for our girls and boys we need to start making change today. One easy way to destroy the twisted system that victims are forced to face is to make the changes in society to prevent sexual assault and rape from happening in the first place. It’s time for all of us as a society to stop making young women live in and navigate their way through a man’s world, and to start living in a human world together.