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WH Report's Shocking Stat: 7% of College Men Admit to Attempting Rape, Most of Them Multiple Times

Obama announces task force to deal with epidemic of college sexual assault, says it's personal.
 
 
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A White House report released Wednesday brings to light to a shocking statistic: 7 percent of college men admit they have attempted rape, 63 percent of those have been involved in multiple assaults, averaging 6 each. And those are the ones that admit it.

No wonder then, the shocking number of victims: 1 in every 5 female students are said to be sexually assaulted, while only 1 in 8 report the attacks. 

The report states that nearly 22 million American women and 1.6 million men have been raped, resulting in devastating aftereffects, such as depression, which can lead to substance abuse and a host of physical ailments that take their toll for years afterwards.

On Wednesday, President Obama vowed to take on the epidemic, and announced he had formed a White House task force to study how best to do it. 

“No one is more at risk of being raped or sexually assaulted than women at our nation’s colleges and universities,” the report by the White House Council on Women and Girls read, highlighting both the devastating statistical probability of being sexually assaulted, as well as the low number of reported cases because of lingering cultural stigma. 

The report also linked campus sexual assaults to drinking and drug use that can often incapacitate victims at various student parties—often at the hands of someone they know. In his announcement, the President emphasized the importance of changing the attitudes of those who perpetrate sexual asssault. 

“We need to encourage young people, men and women, to realize that sexual assault is simply unacceptable,” President Obama said, pointing out that the issue affects him both as president and as the father of two daughters. “They’re going to have to summon the bravery to stand up and say so, especially when the social pressure to keep quiet or to go along can be very intense.”

The President's emphasis on exerting pressure on schools is due to what is seen as an historic failure to respond appropriately to campus assaults. In 2011, Amherst College student  Angie Epifano found her campus to be far from sympathetic when she reported a dorm room rape. She has said school counselors questioned her definition of rape, refused her request to change dorm rooms to get away from her attacker, and even had police take her to a psychiatric ward. 

The Associated Press reports that the Education Department has fined several universities for their failure to accurately report sexual assaults, most notably in 2006 when Eastern Michigan University was fined a then-record $357,000 for not revealing that a student had been sexually assaulted and murdered in her dorm room.

Organizations like Students Active for Ending Rape (a nonprofit group that works with students in an effort to push for major policy reform regarding sexual assault) said that more than 80 percent of colleges inadequately address sexual assault on campus—nearly one quarter fail completely to deal with it, and a third don’t even comply with the Clery Act, which required colleges and universities to publically record their crime statistics each year.

President Obama announced that the task force, made up of officials in the administration, has 90 days to come up with recommendations for colleges on how to prevent assault, and how to be held accountable should they fail to do so.

 

Rod Bastanmehr is a freelance writer in New York City. Follow him on Twitter @rodb.