Headlines identifying recent reports by Universities and Colleges showing significant differences between the numbers of assaults indicated in the annual Clery Act reports, versus the numbers reported by law enforcement to their States Attorney General are now raising questions about the reporting practices of these institutions.
What is the Clery Act?
The Clery Act requires all crime that occurs on campus and within campus sponsored events to be reported.
Why the Clery Act needs an upgrade
As it relates to sexual assault, most sexual assaults do not in fact happen on campus or within sponsored programs and events. The vast majority of sexual assaults occur in the first few months of the academic year and generally in off campus locations that do not fall under the guidelines of the Clery Act.
Simply put, most assaults are perpetrated by people two or three years older than their freshman and sophomore targets who reside in off-campus housing where the use of alcohol is not monitored like in commercial establishments, i.e. no ID required.
Under present Clery Act regulations these off-campus assaults are not required to be reported in the campus statistics. When one looks at the Clery numbers and compares them to the off-campus law enforcement numbers reported to their Attorney General, many conclude an intentional misreporting of campus crime statistics to Clery.
This is misleading and incorrect.
What can be done to correct the Clery Act?
To correct this disparity and produce accurate statistics, new legislation should require that all crime involving students within the town/city, whether on- campus or off- campus be included in the annual Clery Act report. Though I acknowledge some institutions falsify crime reports to create a better image, this would give a much more accurate picture regarding student safety.
If you or a loved one has been a victim of sexual assault, speak out. There is a good amount of support these days. You are not alone. Don't let the perpetrator be allowed to move on to his next victim.