Many students across the U.S. are officially celebrating spring break by taking time to relax from their busy class schedules. Spring break is especially infamous for college drinking parties during which pupils may be most vulnerable to criminal behaviors, according to a recent study.
Researchers at Tulane University in New Orleans administered a survey concluding that about 41% of undergraduates enrolled at the school were victims of sexual assault. That is about two in five individuals.
Shockingly, 74% of women and 87% of men stated they were “incapacitated” by alcohol or drugs at the time of the incident. The study amplifies the fears many parents hold about their youth engaging in risky decision making while at universities, and points to a need for enhanced education on the dangers of intoxication.
Although results from Tulane and previous studies are similar, their findings are not wholly accurate, and parents need not excessively distress for their kids this spring break.
Looking at the Facts
It is worth noting what Tulane used as the classification for “sexual assault.” They included such innocuous “crimes” as unwanted text messages and mean social media posts.
Back in 2007, the Justice Department uncovered that one in five women attending college is sexually assaulted. A 2015 review by the Association of American Universities (AAU) established that one in four females are victims of such abuse.
The media was immediately frenzied. However, due to their samples, the two studies do not yield accurate results. For the Justice Department, 42% of subjects followed through with the analysis, and for the AAU the response rate was only 19%.
Gaining replies is often dependent on the participants’ emotional connection to the topic. That is not to say that the data is wholly unreliable, only that subjects who have suffered sexual abuse are more likely to participate in these studies. Therefore, it’s far more likely that most of the women who didn’t follow through with the analysis — the majority of those polled — are in the non-abused group.
Similarly, after a look at the methods from Tulane scientists, I found that 47% of the participants followed through with the questionnaire. Furthermore, members of Greek life, who notoriously engage in risky behaviors, were especially incentivized.
Although the conclusions from Tulane are predictably higher than what is accurate, they do point to a need for education on the dangers of overconsumption of alcohol.
According to the National Institutes of Health, heavy drinking is considerably more prevalent during spring break, especially among those in Greek life. However, pupils that live with their families or commute have the lowest instances of abuse, reporting that discussions with their parents regarding the consequences of drinking have prevented inebriation.
NIH also reports that 97,000 college-aged individuals have experienced alcohol-related sexual assault or date rape.
Is it Always Rape?
Further controversy at universities has come from unwarranted accusations regarding rape during intoxication. According to a publication in Sage Pub, a peer-reviewed scientific journal, false allegations occur in 2 – 10% of cases and may be more likely to transpire when the perpetrator or victim is under the influence of mind-altering substances. Other current literature points to similar outcomes.
Families should not be concerned that universities are merely institutes where their youth learn to abuse various substances. With adequate knowledge and responsible decision making, students can maturely enjoy their spring breaks and prevent horror stories that impact far too many.