Violence on campuses increasing

News-Register | Designed by Andrew Turner

1 in 5 females, 1 in 10 males will have experienced sexual assault by the time they finish college

By Donna Russell
Staff Writer

A recent report released by the FBI, the Department of Education, and the U.S. Secret Service stated that violent crimes on American college campuses have drastically increased in the past 20 years.

In the report, 272 incidents were examined, and the results show that most of the attacks occurred during the months of April and October.

Because April is Sexual Assault Awareness Month, the North Lake College Counseling department held an event April 14 in the Student Life Center titled “Open Mic Night … Step Up, Speak Out” in an attempt to educate the public and reach out to survivors of sexual abuse and assault.

The Family Place and local high school students participated in the thought-provoking evening.

The symposium contained testimonials, music and poetry from students and victims.  The audience was invited to participate in the presentations, speak privately with a counselor or health care professional or meet with law enforcement officers.

Officer Joe Santos  of the North Lake College Police Department spoke during the meeting about reporting sexual abuse, and gave helpful insight into possible legal procedures.

“If these crimes are not reported they go unpunished,” said Santos.

One of the challenges facing schools is to identify students who could commit acts of violence and determine how to intervene, if possible. And even though North Lake College is rated one of the safest colleges in the U.S., administrators continue to strive for excellence in safety for all students.

Sexual assault is defined as “an intentional or knowing act requiring sexual contact and the use of compulsion or force,” according to the Texas Penal Code, Section 22.001. Sexual assault is illegal.

The FBI report indicated that  intimate relationships were a motivating factor in one-third of attacks; academic stress was a factor in one in 10 attacks; and 60 percent of perpetrators were current or former students at the school where the violence took place.

Additionally, the report also relayed that 90 percent of attacks are committed by men, specific individuals were targeted in two-thirds of attacks, and firearms were used in more than half of the assaults studied.

The report also mentions that, “in the next phase, the FBI and the Education Department intend to examine case files and investigative records from campus attacks, focusing on factors such as past behavior and mental illness of those who carry out such crimes.”

Their hope is that this information will help campus threat assessment teams identify individuals whose behavior may indicate future attacks.

President Barack Obama  was the one who declared April National Sexual Assault Awareness and Prevention Month in 2011. In his statement to the nation, the president specifically expressed his urge for, “all Americans to support victims and work together to prevent these crimes in their communities.”

In the article, “Violent Crimes Increase on College Campuses,” Dr. Clint Van Zandt recommends some things that students can do to help protect themselves from sexual or violent acts. He advises that students should avoid use of alcohol and drugs, walk on welllet paths and avoid remote walkways in the evening hours, never accept a ride from someone you don’t know, try to use the buddy-system when possible and always know where and how to access an emergency telephone.

He further suggests that at social events, individuals should drink only from sealed containers, always refresh a drink that you have walked away from, never take medicine offered by anyone you do not know and always avoid drinking from a punch bowl.

If you or someone you know has been a victim of sexual assault or need counseling in regard to this subject, call the NLC Counseling Services at 972-273-3333 for a confidential visit.