Report: Sex crimes on college campuses doubled since 2009

A new report released by the U.S. Education Department found that reported cases of sexual assault and offenses on college campuses rose from 3,357 in 2009 to 6,073 in 2013. The numbers were part of a letter sent to Senator Barbara Boxer, D-Calif., that was released to the public this week.

While the numbers seem rather startling, officials in the Education Department say (in the letter) that the actual crimes have likely not risen, but awareness of them has. The push to encourage young people to speak up when they feel their sexual rights have been violated is gaining momentum across the country. Even the Obama Administration has stepped up and encouraged colleges and universities to take stronger actions when cases of sexual assault are reported, threatening to investigate schools that do not take the proper steps.

Working on a college campus, I don’t believe for a second that it has gotten twice as dangerous for students since 2009 when it comes to sexual assault. I think these numbers are exactly what the Education Department hints at — a result of raised awareness. Victims are feeling more comfortable speaking up and friends are more empowered to speak up when they see something happen that isn’t right.

Frankly, I would rather see numbers like this that indicate more young people are coming forward and feeling supported than to see a drop in numbers at this point. Until all colleges and universities have stringent sexual assault policies that they enforce, reports like this one are necessary to wake us from our slumber.

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