Sandusky effect: Penn State tops the list of sexual assaults

Penn State and other universities must crack down on sexual assaults

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Penn State University had the highest reported number of forcible sexual offenses for any college in the nation, according to a Washington Post analysis. The 56 reported offenses on the campus in 2012 are an increase from 24 in 2011 and just four in 2010.

That’s a large total, even for a school of its size. Among all U.S. colleges with more than 20,000 enrollees, Penn State had the highest number of reported sexual offenses per capita.

But about half of the 56 cases reported to the U.S. Department of Education were due to the Jerry Sandusky case. Second, increased awareness about sexual assault might have urged other students to come forward.

Most studies estimate that 20 to 25 percent of female college students are sexually assaulted in school. The vast majority of these cases go unreported, the result of both social stigma and insufficient support provided by schools.

Title IX is best known for enabling women’s athletics, but it also includes requirements for combating sexual violence at schools receiving federal funding. In May, the Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights announced that it was investigating five Pennsylvania higher-education institutions for possible violations of Title IX.

The aim is not to penalize the universities, but to promote policies that ensure the safety of all students and seek accountability for perpetrators. It’s not only the right thing to do — it’s the law.

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