From U.S. News and World Report on the uptick of reported assaults:
Sens. Barbara Boxer of California, Kirsten Gillibrand of New York and
Tim Kaine of Virginia released data the department's Office for Civil
Rights provided in response to letters the senators sent asking for
greater transparency. The data
show the number of sexual violence complaints at colleges and
universities increased from nine in fiscal year 2009 to 102 in fiscal
year 2014 – a jump of more than 1,000 percent. Meanwhile, the average
length of time it takes the office to investigate cases that result in
"substantive closures" – as opposed to those resulting in "findings of
no violation or insufficient evidence," or another outcome – more than
tripled, from 379 days to 1,469 days.
The Huffington Post has an article about the group, Stop Sexual Assault in Schools, which is the work of the parents of the Garfield student who was assaulted on a field trip in November 2012.
Though Washington state law says there
should have been an investigation within one week of the reported rape,
Seattle Public Schools waited months to begin an investigation, and
only did so after Warkov complained. The district said it delayed an
investigation because the FBI was already looking into the case, but the
bureau has disputed that claim, saying it would never have asked the school not to investigate immediately.
The nonprofit aims to help people whose sexual violence cases were
mishandled take action by filing federal complaints, as college
activists have been doing in recent years. SSAIS also wants to push for
more prevention efforts, connect victims with resources and share
information about how these cases are supposed to be handled.
In short, the group is putting school districts everywhere on
notice: drop the ball when a student reports a sexual assault, and we'll
expose it to the world.
"In my observation, there are many more lawsuits against school
districts than [there are against] universities arising from the
school's response -- or lack of -- to sexual harassment and assault, but
we're not hearing as much about other remedies like government
enforcement, or about preventive measures aimed at K-12," said Erin
Buzuvis, a law professor and director of Western New England
University's Center for Gender & Sexuality Studies. "So it's good that SSIA is working to marshal resources and raise awareness about issue."
Where are the stats today?
As of the end of September, the U.S. Department of Education had opened
53 Title IX investigations at 51 schools and school districts -- a tally
that more than doubled since November 2014.
There's also another group - Know Your IX - whose website has useful graphics that can help parents and school communities with their understanding of the issue.
The advocacy group Know Your IX has recently put out a
toolkit to explain how Title IX applies to high school sexual assault
cases. Directors of End Rape On Campus are advocating to expand affirmative consent education
into high schools. The social impact team behind the campus rape
documentary "It Happened Here" has worked to facilitate screenings in high schools.
Last week, California Gov. Jerry Brown (D) signed into law two bills:
One that mandates any school district requiring a health course to teach
students about affirmative consent -- essentially, "only yes means yes"
-- and a second to require all districts to provide sexual education
classes twice between grades 7 and 12.
Naturally, it can be asked - is there more sexual assault going on or
are more victims reporting assaults? I haven't seen data on that
question but I believe it is likely that as more victims feel supported or
understand there are protections out there for them, they will report their assault. (You could also ask
the question - as I have seen in other articles - about whether more
students are claiming assaults.)