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December 11, 2014

A report released Thursday from the U.S. Department of Justice shows that only about 20 percent of campus sexual assault victims go to police.

According to the report, rape happens more to young women between the ages of 18 and 24 than to any other age group. However, young women within that range who are college students are less likely to report the assault to police than their non-student peers. While 33 percent of young women who aren't students choose to go to the police, only 20 percent of students do.

When a woman is assaulted on a college campus, and decides to report, she could go to campus police, off-campus police, a professor or anyone else. That makes it difficult to track reporting numbers on campus.

  “At Boston College we do not pressure students into reporting," explained Katie O'Dair, Associate Vice President for Student Affairs at Boston College. "What we do is encourage them to get into that network of care. And we have a number of locations on campus where they can confidentially report and seek help.”  

Boston College is not one of the schools the federal government is investigating for failing to comply with federal standards, but ten other schools in Massachusetts are under investigation.

Related: In Reporting Sexual Assaults On Campus, Role of RAs Evolves

The report also found that about 1 in 10 college women say that a sexual assault was not important enough to bring to the attention of police, and a quarter of victims don't report because they say it was a personal matter.

“The number one reason why college students don’t come forward, particularly in the first year, is that they're eager to establish their peer group, that tends to trump all other actions that they might take,” said O'Dair.  

Related: Department of Education Releases List of Schools Under Investigation for Sexual Assault

This report is the latest in a larger effort by the Obama administration to pressure colleges to better treat victims. Congress is trying to figure out how to get colleges and law enforcement to work together on these cases.

increasing access and success, higher ed, assault, sexual

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