Increases in Reported Rapes at New Jersey College Campuses Shows Influence of #MeToo Movement

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Although the number of rape reports on New Jersey college campuses climbed again in 2017, advocates attribute much of the increase to the fact that it has become easier for victims to report these crimes.

At our state’s 4-year colleges and universities, there were 148 rape reports in 2017. This represents a 7% increase over 2016 and a huge 33% rise over 2015. The data was compiled by a NJ Advance Media review of the crime reports filed on 27 residential campuses.

#MeToo Movement Bolsters Increase in Reported Rapes

One of the main reasons for the increase in rape reports is the #MeToo movement against sexual assault and sexual misconduct. This grassroots movement which began in the entertainment industry has given assault and harassment victims a voice, from educational institutions, fashion, sports and music to the military and especially politics and government.

Another factor in the increase is efforts by New Jersey campuses to increase awareness of how sexual violence can be reported. Advocates feel that there has not been a dramatic increase in actual rapes on campuses, but that more victims feel empowered to report these crimes and that the numbers will continue to climb.

The odd result from the combination of victim empowerment and enhanced reporting systems is that the higher 2017 numbers are actually interpreted as a positive sign of progress.

Annual Campus Reports Mandated by Federal Clery Act

Under the Clery Act, a federal law created in 1990 and named for a student who was raped and murdered in her Lehigh University dorm room, requires that U.S. colleges publish their crime statistics on their websites each fall. NJ Advance Media reviewed reports for New Jersey’s 27 colleges and compiled the number of rape reports.

You can read more about the apparent trend for increased reporting of rape as well as NJ Advance Media’s two-year statistics for each individual school in this NJ.com article.

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