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Report: Sexual Assault Even More Prevalent Off-Campus

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Friday, February 2, 2018   

ANN ARBOR, Mich. – Michigan State University and other colleges have been in the spotlight with high profile cases of sexual assault. A new report doesn't dispute the big problems on campus, but it makes the point that women who don't attend college are at even greater risk.

The six year study found that one in four women will experience "forced intercourse" by age 44. Researcher Bill Axinn, a University of Michigan professor, says there's no question it's deeply disturbing that the risk of sexual assault is as high as 20 percent per year for undergraduates.

"That's very, very high, and something we should all be concerned about,” says Axinn. “However, it's a shame if that distracts us from the fact that it's even higher among those human beings who don't get to go to college."

The risk is 2.5 times higher for non-college graduates, according to the study. Axinn says several factors likely contribute, including family income and socioeconomic status, as well as the fact that college campuses provide a certain level of adult supervision and education about sexual assault.

Axinn points to the "#MeToo" hashtag and recent revelations about rampant sexual assault in the entertainment industry, in politics and the general workplace as proof that the problem is far larger than on any individual school campus. But he notes that doesn't absolve any one school, sport, or workplace from responsibility.

"But at the same time, when we're confronting that responsibility, we can't imagine that that's the only problem,” he says. “We must address this as a societal-wide problem that takes every single one of us to engage in, 'This is not OK.' "

About 8 percent of men in the study reported having a forced sexual encounter, but those without a four-year college experience were four times more likely to have had such an incident. The study was published in the journal Social Science Research.


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