Colleges and universities across the U.S. have seen significant increases in the numbers of disciplinary actions and arrests. See Indicators of School Crime and Safety: 2015 (Published May 2016), published by the Bureau of Justice Statistics and the National Center for Education Statistics. This annual report examines crimes in schools and colleges in the U.S.
Even though there has been an increase in the number of disciplinary actions and arrests, the total number of criminal incidents that were reported to law enforcement is down. According to the report, about 27,500 on campus criminal incidents were reported to law enforcement or security at 2 and 4 year colleges and universities in the year 2013. Interestingly, this represents a general downward departure from prior years, going as far back as 2001.
Despite the overall downward trend in the number of crimes reported to law enforcement, there have been some major increases in the number disciplinary actions for drug and alcohol law violations from 2001 to 2013. What this means is that colleges and universities are declining to report criminal incidents to law enforcement and instead, are handling matters “in house.” This sends the wrong message to students, i.e., that unlawful conduct will be swept under the rug and handled by the school, rather than law enforcement.
In 2001, there were about 24,000 disciplinary actions for drug law violations. By 2013, that number increased to just over 54,000, a 127% increase.
|Disciplinary Action||2001||2013||% Increase|
*See below for more data on criminal activity on college campuses in the U.S.
From 2001 to 2013, there was a 126% increase in the number of forcible sex crimes on campus. In addition, from 2012 to 2013, there was a 25% increase in the number of reported sex crimes, 4,000 to 5,000, respectively. Sex offenses are more likely to occur at colleges and universities with residence halls than those without them (4.6 vs. 0.5 per 10,000 full-time students).
When a crime occurs on campus, students often believe that the college will take appropriate action. Oftentimes, college security does not. Time and time again, reports of an assault or incident get swept under the rug. A parent’s call may not be returned. The local police department may defer to campus security and not want to get involved. Our attorneys see this type of behavior time and time again.
Under federal and state law, a college or university may be held liable when a student is the victim of an on campus crime such as a physical assault or a sexual assault. Whether it occurs in a dorm room or somewhere else on campus, a college which fails to take reasonable precautions to protect students may face liability. Oftentimes, the college may be liable for negligence in the following:
In recent years, three of the most common cases involving on campus crime include hazing lawsuits, sexual assault lawsuits and alcohol accident lawsuits. In some instances, other parties can be held liable in addition to the college. A fraternity/sorority or bar or nightclub may be held liable.
For example, in an assault case, both the college and a local bar or club can be held liable where an underage student is served alcohol at the bar, and then goes back to her dorm where she is assaulted by an unknown third party perpetrator, who gained unauthorized access to the dorm. The bar can be held liable for serving alcohol to a minor, and the college may be liable for allowing an unknown third party (perpetrator) to access a private dorm room.
According to the most recent data from the 2015 report, Indicators of School Crime and Safety, crimes on college campuses have decreased since 2001. However, as indicated above, the number of disciplinary actions have increased sharply. As indicated above, from 2001 to 2013, there was a 127% increase in the number of disciplinary actions for drug violations. Also, there was a 126% increase in the number of forcible sexual offenses.
While the number of disciplinary actions has increased across the board, the number of arrests has largely stayed the same. With the exception of drug arrests, arrests for alcohol violations and illegal weapons have decreased slightly.
|Type of Arrest||2001||2013||Percent Change|
These statistics clearly show that on campus crime still remains a problem. Drugs and sex offenses are some of the most serious issues on college campuses in the U.S.
From the Crime Victim Injury Law Library:
Title IX is a federal law that prohibits sex-based discrimination in educational programs and activities that receive federal funding. This includes sexual harassment and sexual violence, such as sexual assault, rape, and other forms of sexual abuse. Colleges and universities that receive federal funding are required to address and prevent sexual abuse on their campuses, provide resources and support to survivors, and follow specific procedures for investigating and resolving reports of sexual misconduct.
Yes, survivors of sexual abuse on college campuses may be able to file a lawsuit against their college or university for failing to adequately address, prevent, or respond to incidents of sexual abuse or misconduct. Under Title IX, schools have an obligation to protect students from sexual abuse and provide a safe and supportive environment for survivors. If your school has been negligent in its handling of your case, you may have grounds for a civil lawsuit.
To file a Title IX complaint against your college or university, follow these steps:
The attorneys at Laffey, Bucci & Kent have extensive experience representing survivors of sexual abuse on college campuses and have a deep understanding of Title IX and its implications. Our team of former prosecutors can help you:
With a national presence and a team of dedicated attorneys, Laffey, Bucci & Kent is prepared to advocate for your rights and help you navigate the complexities of Title IX and college campus sexual abuse cases.
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