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Rape: The most common violent crime on campus

Minnesota college campuses exceed the national average in one area that no one wants them to: sexual assault.

University of Minnesota researchers are releasing today the 2007 College Student Health Survey Report, a sweeping survey of 10,000 students on 14 college campuses across the state.

Among the findings: 22.4 percent of female students said they had been sexually assaulted in their lifetime with 6.8 percent reporting they had been assaulted within the last 12 months.

A look at how these numbers compare with national and statewide figures paints a grim picture.

From 1960 to 1993, the rape rate in Minnesota was lower than the national rate, according to Minnesota’s Office of Justice Programs. It’s been higher ever since.

Nationally, about 16.7 percent of women, or one in six, are sexually assaulted at some point in their lives. That’s almost 6 percentage points lower than the number of female college students in Minnesota who said they have been sexually assaulted.

“Rape is the most common violent crime on college campuses,” according to Critical Issues in Sexual Assault, a Wilder Research Report sponsored by the Minnesota Department of Public Safety, published in July 2007.

The report states that women enrolled in college are more likely to be raped than women of a similar age who are not. That they are “especially likely to be raped in the first few weeks of their freshman or sophomore years.” And that they are more likely than other rape victims to know their assailants.

Let’s hope this new information spurs a greater effort to raise awareness about and prevent sexual assault in Minnesota and throughout the country.

Carla Solberg, who has written for Minneapolis/St. Paul Business Journal, Twin Cities Business and Upsize Minnesota, will report on local business developments, the health care industry and other topics.

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