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December 15 2014

DOJ Campus Sexual Assault Study: The Administration's One-In-Five Statistic Appears to Be Waaaay Off Base

Charlotte Hays

Mark Perry’s post on a new study from the Justice Department on campus sexual assault carries a trigger warning:

If you are upset by facts about campus sexual assault please stop reading now.

If you look at the actual figures, the study finds that about one in 52.6 women have been victims of sexual assault or rape on campus in recent years, which is a far cry from the one-in-five number promoted by the Obama administration.

The Department of Justice study is entitled “Rape and Sexual Assault Victimization Among College-Age Females, 1995-2013.” The study used the National Crime Victimization Survey (NCVS) of women aged 18-24.

The one-in-five number already has been widely debunked (notably by Christina Hoff Sommers, Perry, and others) but the administration has continued to use it to push policies that erode the right to due process for the accused. It is not unfair to say that the “rape culture” on campus was used as a rallying cry to promote the notion that Democrats are the party most willing to protect women.

Perry read the study and points out some interesting findings:

Over the 1995-2013 period, the rate of rape and sexual assault victimization for both students and nonstudents has been falling (see chart).  For women attending college, the rate of rape/sexual assault has fallen by more than 50%, from 9.2 incidents per 1,000 women in 1997 to 4.4 cases per 1,000 in 2013. According to the media, politicians and gender activists, there is supposed to be a college “rape epidemic” when in fact, the rate of college female victimization has been trending downward for the last two decades.

 What might be the most important statistic (and was not provided in the report and is not being reported by the media, except Ashe Schow at the Washington Examiner) is that the data provided by the NCVS show that only about 1 in 41 women were victims of rape or sexual assault (threatened, completed and attempted; and reported and unreported) while in college for four years during the entire period investigated from 1995 to 2013, based on this analysis:

6.1 women per 1,000 = “1 in 163.9 women” per year, and over four years attending college would then be = “1 in 41 women” while in college. 

Because the victimization rate has been trending downward, that same analysis using data from the last four years (2010 to 2013) reveals that 1 in 52.6 women have been sexually assaulted or raped in recent years.

The administration’s pet one-in-five number appears to be wrong and it does a disservice to young women (and young men) to promote hysteria with what is looking more like a bogus statistic every day.

I will leave it to you to wonder if Rolling Stone’s now-infamously unraveled story on campus rape at the University of Virginia might have been more seriously vetted if it weren’t for the hysteria the administration has helped create (not that this excuses the lousy editing and dishonest “reporting” of the story!)



Independent Women's Forum is an educational 501(c)(3) dedicated to developing and advancing policies that aren’t just well intended, but actually enhance people’s freedom, choices, and opportunities. IWF is the sister organization of the Independent Women’s Voice.​
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