Schools are mostly safe places — but when violence does occur, it can have far-reaching ramifications. Violence on college campuses not only affects the individuals involved, but it also disrupts the education process and can negatively affect the school community.
As reported in Indicators of School Crime and Safety, between 2001 and 2015 the overall number of on-campus crimes reported in degree-granting postsecondary institutions decreased by 34 percent. However, while crime in general is down, reported sexual violence is up. The number of reported forcible sex offenses on college campuses increased 262 percent from 2001 (2,200 reports) to 2015 (8,000 reports). Between 2014 and 2015, the number of reported forcible sex offenses increased by 18 percent.
On college campuses, gender-based violence creates a public health and safety concern. A 2015 study involving more than 150,000 students from 27 universities found that 23 percent of female students experienced some form of unwanted sexual contact. For those who experience sexual assault, dating violence, domestic violence, and stalking the outcomes can be debilitating. Victims are more likely to suffer from depression, substance abuse, and post-traumatic stress disorder.
To police college campuses, a majority of four-year colleges and universities in the United States use sworn police officers to provide law enforcement services, according to the Bureau of Justice Statistics. Among schools that enrolled more than 2,500 students during the 2011–12 school year, about 75 percent were using armed officers, a seven percent increase from the 2004–05 school year.
Most campus law enforcement agencies serving 5,000 or more students had personnel designated to address general crime prevention (91 percent), rape prevention (86 percent), drug education (79 percent), alcohol education (78 percent), stalking (75 percent), victim assistance (72 percent), and intimate partner violence (69 percent).
Nearly all campuses had a mass notification system that used email, text messages, or other methods to alert and instruct students, faculty, and staff in emergency situations.
To learn more about crime and safety on campus, visit the following pages for additional resources from the Office of Justice Programs and other federal sources: