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Jaren Wilkey, BYU

Study: 64% of sex assault victims at BYU didn't report sexual misconduct cases

By Carter Williams, KSL.com  |  Posted Nov 16th, 2017 @ 2:01pm


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PROVO — A new report regarding Brigham Young University students who were sexually assaulted shows nearly two-thirds of the victims did not report their incident to the school or an ecclesiastical leader.

Email invitations were sent to 29,471 BYU students with 13,784 (48 percent) starting the survey and 12,602 completing the survey.

The report, released Thursday, also notes more than half of the students who completed the survey reported they felt BYU is not doing a good job of educating students about sexual assault.

However, it also found the majority of the students who completed the survey reported they felt the school is trying hard to make students feel safe, including providing needed services for victims of sexual assault.

The report concluded by recommending 11 items, including encouraging students to report sexual misconduct, forming a training committee for sexual misconduct issues and increasing awareness for the resources victims can use.

In all, 475 of the students who completed the study reported they had experienced some form of unwanted sexual contact in the 12 months prior to when the survey was conducted in the spring of 2017. About 84 percent of those who responded were female and 16 percent were male.

The 475 students reported about 730 unwanted sexual incidents within the year, with the majority of the incidents centered around forced touching such as forced kissing or groping. Of the 730 incidents, more than half involved a perpetrator that was either a current or former dating partner or spouse, while another quarter were an acquaintance, friend of a friend or someone they had just met. Only 6 percent involved a stranger.

However, 64 percent of the incidents involving unwanted sexual contact went unreported to a formal organization or leader, the study noted. Twenty-six percent of the incidents were reported to a religious figure, 8 percent were reported to BYU counseling or psychological services, while just 3 percent were reported to the Title IX office, 3 percent to local police and another 1 percent were reported to BYU Campus Police.

Those who reported unwanted sexual contact said they were more likely to disclose the incident to a friend, roommate or a family member, if at all.

Another aspect the survey concluded is that students reported they hadn’t received much education or training about sexual assault. Almost three-fourths of students surveyed said they had not received education or training on how to report sexual assault, the legal definition of sexual assault, what services are available for sexual assault survivors or the definition of consent.

“The large number of students who participated in the survey lends confidence to the findings, and also speaks to the openness of the student community to address these issues,” said Lindsay Orchowski, a professor at Brown University and psychologist at Rhode Island Hospital, in a question-and-answer section posted by BYU.

“Students at BYU are eager for more education on how to prevent sexual violence,” she continued. “Taken together, these findings suggest that university efforts to strengthen sexual violence prevention efforts will be well received by the student community.”

Orchowski consulted a committee of BYU professors who conducted the survey.

Carter Williams, KSL.com
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