4 Sexual Assault Statistics That Everyone (Including Betsy DeVos) Should Know

Betsy DeVos is worried about the wrongly accused, but these statistics prove her concern is misplaced.

Earlier today, September 7, Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos announced her department's plan to end guidelines put in place for handling campus sexual assault investigations. Said guidelines were championed by former President Obama via the 2011 Dear Colleague Letter — which aided sexual assault survivors by stipulating educational institutions have a legal responsibility to protect their students from gender discrimination. The letter also stated institutions that didn't comply would risk losing federal funding under Title IX —the federal law that prohibits sex discrimination in education.

Per Time, DeVos justified the change by arguing during a speech at George Mason University in Virginia, "The sad reality is that lady justice is not blind on campuses today. This unraveling of justice is shameful, it's wholly un-American." 


Betsy DeVos with Ivanka Trump and Labor Secretary Alexander Acosta.

She added, "There must be a better way forward. Every survivor of sexual misconduct must be taken seriously. Every student accused of sexual misconduct must know that guilt is not predetermined."

That last sentence is a big portion of what has people concerned. Though there was no firm plan put forth regarding exactly what the Dear Colleague Letter will be replaced with, she stated later in her speech, "The era of rule by letter is over. Through intimidation and coercion, the failed system has clearly pushed schools to overreach." 

These remarks come less than two months after the billionaire met with various groups in July to discuss sexual assault on college campuses. While she did spend time with sexual assault survivors, the 59-year-old also spoke with those who had been "wrongly accused," further signaling she's worried there's a high rate of false accusations.

In light of DeVos's remarks, we've compiled a list of four sexual assault statistics everyone should be aware of.

1. The low rate of false accusations.

Despite DeVos's clear concern that many college students (predominantly men) are being falsely accused of sexual assault, research shows the rate of false accusations is actually quite low and often inflated. 

According to the National Sexual Violence Resource Center, the prevalence of false reporting hovers between two and eight percent. For example, a study of eight U.S. communities, which included 2,059 cases of sexual assault, found that the rate of false reports was just over seven percent. A separate study of 136 sexual assault cases in Boston found a less than six percent rate of false reports, and when researchers studied 812 reports of sexual assault from 2000-2003, they found that only two percent were false reports.

2. The low rate of reports.

Per RAINN, only 20 percent of female student victims, age 18-24, report instances of sexual violence to law enforcement. Advocates have argued that survivors are less likely to report sexual violence because they fear they won't be believed.

3. The high frequency of sexual assault.

The statistics regarding under reporting are even more galling when you examine how frequently sexual assault takes place on college campuses across the United States. Know Your IX — an organization dedicated to empowering students to stop sexual violence — reports approximately 19 percent of women will be sexually assaulted during their time at college. The same is true for over five percent of men.

4. The number of ongoing investigations into allegedly mishandled cases.

 Per The Chronicle of Higher Education, the Education Department's Office for Civil Rights currently has 360 open investigations involving allegations that colleges and universities mishandled reports of campus sexual violence.

And that's with the current recommendations.


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