20 Jun 2022


Sexual Assault in U.S College Campuses

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Academic level: College

Paper type: Research Paper

Words: 3196

Pages: 12

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Sexual assault is an act where another person sexually touches another gender without their consent. In the U.S, there has been a rising number of sexual assault cases reported from colleges across some states. Since August 21 this year, the New York Times has continued to report concerning sexual assault targeting female college students. Such protests are not new, but the recent female protests in Iowa, Nebraska, Kansas, Michigan, Alabama, Missouri, and Massachusetts is of great concern to the federal and local governments. Therefore, this paper will widely examine and analyze sexual assault amongst college females, ways to increase public knowledge on mental health, physical health, family structures, career, and educational pursuits concerning the topic in discussion. Moreover, the paper will briefly discuss two appropriate theories on women and their impact on sexual assault. To achieve this, the paper will utilize coursework readings and peer-reviewed journals. 

The rising number of sexual assault on college female students across the U.S states have raised a lot of criticism from the students, parents, guardians and civil groups. Female students in these colleges have continued to accuse their schools of doing little in investigating the matter in question. Moreover, the protests have been stimulated by the hashtags MeTooMovements present in Twitter spaces. The protests started when a college female student was sexually assaulted at the University of Nebraska in the United States. This followed many protests across other U.S states due to the influence of social media. According to DeMatteo et al. (2015), sexual assault on college female students causes adverse side effects such as school absenteeism, drug abuse, suicides, low academic grades, and stigma among the victims of sexual abuse. Furthermore, it is believed that protests aim at curbing and eradicating future cases of sexual assault. Protests raise awareness to both the school, perpetrators, and policymakers. 

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In the United States, most sexual violence against female students occurs between Thanksgiving break and the onset of fall classes. Between these periods, there are many freshmen and transfer students. These groups are most vulnerable to sexual assault as they are naïve and strangers in college environments (DeMatteo et al., 2015). Furthermore, females get sexually attacked because they are not familiar with the social network around the campuses. Women have a 13.8% chance of being raped at any given time, compared to their male counterparts, hence making female students more prone to sexual assaults from their male friends. Alcohol abuse and peer influence are the major causes of sexual assault in U.S colleges, with schools doing less to minimize substance abuse among the students. For example, not all colleges check student’s blood for traces of drugs and alcohol daily. From this perspective, sexual violence will be a major problem for female college students. 

Moreover, the period between August and November is termed as “Red Zone” as many college women get assaulted sexually by sex perpetrators. Such periods are likely for sophomores and freshmen to attend college "wild parties" meant to welcome them into college hood. College parties are majorly attended by college seniors who end up sexually assaulting young females attending the party. Also, freshmen are likely to be assaulted in such parties because they do not have close friends to defend them during the sexual assault. With many schools doing little to curb sexual violence across many colleges in the U.S, students will continue to protest against such vices. The protests will negatively impair the learning progress in many U.S states, as students will spend most of their time protesting and defending their female colleagues against aggressive sexual violence. Based on this, disrupted classes will also affect students who would have completed their coursework this year. 

The emergence of the COVID-19 pandemic made it difficult for sexual assault survivors to get prompt justice. During this period, the U.S federal and local governments placed various restrictions to curtail the spread of the deadly virus. Schools and courtrooms were closed, and only virtual processes took over. Graham et al. (2017) maintained that rape survivors should get timely justice, as this minimizes the chances of perpetrators harming the survivors. With the continuing protests, social distancing rules have not been observed despite the risks of contracting the COVID-19 virus. But despite this, civil groups and female students across the U.S colleges will remain protesting until their demands and rights are respected. Many protesters carried posters and banners saying that many U.S colleges and Universities have continued to sideline sexual assault on college female students. The same schools have been critiqued for continuing to champion the adverse effects of the COVID-19 pandemic while sidelining the other health issue. 

Many risk factors stimulate sexual assault on women. Firstly, individual factors like drug affiliated sexual violence are committed by an individual under the influence of alcohol or drugs ( DeMatteo et al., 2015). Unregulated sale of alcohol to college students is the fueling factor enhancing sexual assault. For example, during college parties, the sale of alcohol is widely accessible by all college students, so long as they have the financial and age capability. Cocaine is also a major drug playing a disinhibiting role in propelling rape during “Red Zone” periods. Despite being highly illegal, the hard drug finds itself inside college parties. When taken alongside alcohol, Cocaine makes the victim lose focus and behaviors, making him or she engage in risky sexual behaviors aggressive sexual assault towards other genders presence in the college parties. College students are likely to engage in antisocial and violent behaviors when they consume alcohol beyond the limits. To prevent this, there should be stringent policies concerning the sale of alcohol to college students. In addition, regular frisks should be made mandatory to curb students who might be selling and distributing Cocaine in colleges around the United States. 

Secondly, the U.S Centers for Disease Control (CDC) attributes that individual past experiences factors on the increasing number of sexual assaults targeting female students. Male students who have been sexually assaulted previously are prone to committing rape to their female peers at the same college. Also, boys who come from unstable family relationships are likely to commit sexual assault while in college. Male entitlements superiority in U.S colleges is also a major factor stimulating rape (DeMatteo et al., 2015). For instance, many Universities are dominated by elected male leaders, which makes it harder for rape survivors to channel their grievances to male leaders. Poor rape victims also find it hard to get justice in the U.S. The lawsuits, evidence, and lawyers require fees, and this is a stumbling block for many rape survivors in U.S colleges. For instance, if a rich college man rapes a poor young female college student, the justice will take years due to financial constraints from the sexual assault victim. Such cases may even end up being void as there might be no evidence linking the man to the rape assault. 

Else-Quest & Janet (2018) claimed that rape enhances psychological distress in women. Sexually abused women are prone to developing depression, suicidal thoughts, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and traumatic flashbacks. For example in U.S colleges, females who have been raped victims, find it difficult to concentrate on their classwork and daily chores. Some raped women recover within one year, but the majority of them experience psychological disturbances throughout their lives. The nature and magnitude of rape always determine the healing pattern of a rape victim. For instance, gang-raped women have zero chances of healing from rape trauma, compared to other sexual assaults. Although some women blame themselves for being raped, it is illegal and inhumane for men to act in such a gross manner. In addition, some women blame their lifestyles and dresses being the cause of sexual assault advanced to them. Mini-skirts and alcohol use are the leading causes of rape in the United States. 

Also, sexual assault increases the chances of contracting HIV/AIDs and sexually transmitted infections (STIs) among women victims. In many instances, sexual predators use a lot of force and threats while raping and abusing women. Also, the perpetrators use alcohol as a stimulator hence enabling them to perform sexual contact in a predatory and abusive manner. By doing so, many of them do not use protective measures like condoms (Graham et al., 2017). Eventually, after being sexually assaulted, female victims are prone to becoming pregnant, HIV positive. Moreover, they may contract STIs like Gonorrhea, Syphilis, Chlamydia, Genital Herpes, Hepatitis B, Trichomoniasis. Genital Warts often lead to cervical cancer in the long-run perspective. The United States CDC attributes that despite many measures undertaken, many female college students affected by sexual assault, remain silent due to the fear and stigma from the society. By remaining silent, they are prone to developing resistant long-term serious infections that are resistant to antibiotics. 

Furthermore, aggressive sexual assault like rape causes permanent physical damage to key organ parts of the women's reproductive system ( Else-Quest and Janet, 2018) . Firstly, it may lead to long-term damage of the vagina, urethra, and anus due to aggressive penetration from the sex predictor(s). Secondly, it can lead to sexual and reproductive health issues, eating and pain disorders, and gastrointestinal problems. Thirdly, rape can lead to extreme pelvic pains and irritable bowel syndrome which makes it difficult for the rape victims to have a lively and holistic life thereafter. Fourthly, aggressive sexual assaults may lead to persistent headaches and the prevalence of developing chronic diseases such as arthritis and diabetes. Lastly, rape may lead to gynecologic symptoms among female students. Examples of these symptoms include menorrhagia which is prolonged and heavy menstruation bleeding. Also, it may lead to women developing dysmenorrhea which is severe cramps and pains in the lower abdomen. 

Three Ways to Increase Public Knowledge on Mental Health, Physical Health, and Career Pursuits in Respect to Sexual Assault on Female College Students 

Sexual assault victims often battle mental health issues due to traumatic flashbacks. The first way that can be used to increase awareness, is through regular mental health screening on all the college students (DeMatteo et al., 2015). The college should implement such policies that require every female student to be screened monthly to enable school nurses to detect possible sexual assault mental symptoms among the female students. Symptoms like social withdrawal, sleeping and eating problems, anxiety, worry, and class absenteeism are the possible “red alerts” of a sexually assaulted female student. The colleges could also cooperate with female students and encourage them to attend the screening rooms voluntarily. The mental health screening should foster and robust and holistic screening and counseling among female students. Also, the screening should be carried out by professional healthcare practitioners who can enhance privacy and medical ethics while screening female students. 

The mental health screening processes and themes could also be incorporated in coursework programs in the colleges. Graham et al. (2017) asserted that when students learn about sexual assault, they can mitigate dangerous habits and lifestyle behaviors that might trigger and expose them to such problems. Coursework units teaching about the importance of decent dressing among female students can enhance behavior change in the long run. Female students will be able to learn the importance of not wearing mini-skirts that expose a lot of flesh when attending college parties. Also, the class teachings will enable the students to learn about various symptoms that may be experienced by sex assault victims, hence helping them out before such victims plunge into suicide and depression. In addition, the mental health screening classes can teach female students on risk factors of attending night wild college parties alone. 

The U.S colleges should also involve the community while implementing the mental health screening processes ( Else-Quest and Janet, 2018) . The community hosts some sex predators who take advantage of college parties and sexually assault innocent college female students. Some college parties usually take place out-campuses where the community members can interact with the students freely. Therefore, when the U.S colleges and the community come together and implement the screening functions, the community as a whole will be aware of the sexual assault targeting college women. This will trigger and stimulate the local law enforcement officers to put enough security measures inside and outside college parties. For example, during the “Red Zone” periods, the police and other law enforcement agencies could increase the number of security personal along with the college campuses. By doing so, there will be minimized cases of sexual assault. 

The second way to increase physical health awareness on sexual assault victims is through regular testing of female students. Examples of physical health issues include HIV/AIDs, Chlamydia, pregnancies, urethra and virginal damage, cervical cancer, and STIs (DeMatteo et al., 2015). Some rape victims in U.S colleges may remain silent for longer timeframes, hence contracting resistant diseases and infections that are resistant to Antibiotics and other broad medications. When schools adopt regular testing on female students, it will be easier for the colleges to raise awareness concerning sexual assault. Parents, guardians, and college representatives should have consultative meetings aimed at encouraging parents and guardians to give their consent concerning the regular testing of female students. Testing outcomes will create awareness on female students, parents, and colleges and establishing viable measures to undertake both in the short-term and long term. For example, if some college students are tested and found to have STIs and damaged urethra and vagina, the colleges could give them timely treatments and therapies. 

Moreover, the testing findings could create awareness among the students on the possible physical health problems after sexual assault. For example, the testing could be timed when freshmen are reporting, as this is the period where most college female students are sexually assaulted. From August to November, U.S colleges should test female students every month. By doing so, sex predators inside the college will fear committing such acts on innocent females. Rape victims who fear reporting the incidents could also use these testing processes to get justice and treatment. The testing should also incorporate counseling programs where sexual assault victims get viable advice and therapies. In addition, healthcare professionals performing the testing could teach the sexual assault victims on the importance of Pre-exposure Prophylaxes (PreP) medication as it prevents raped victims from contracting HIV/AIDS within 72 hours. 

The third method that could be used to create career pursuits awareness in respect to sexual assault on female college students is through social media platforms, seminars, and increased journals researching contemporary sexual assault on college women, and specific schools that host sexual assault victims. Social media platforms like Twitter and Facebook should be used as channels where raped college girls report their grievances to the relevant U.S Federal authorities. Social media platforms have the benefit of reaching a vast space, hence creating awareness in the long run (Graham et al., 2017). U.S Colleges and Universities should partner with social media agencies in advancing hashtags meant to create awareness to the general public concerning the rise of sexual assault on U.S colleges targeting women. Also, Twitter and Facebook should have features that ensure that raped victims get the necessary privacy. Private Direct Messages (DMs) sent by anonymous victims to administrators enhance privacy, hence encouraging more raped victims to report the cases without fear of getting social media stigma. 

The U.S colleges should organize student seminars that create awareness concerning the rise of sexual assault targeting college women. In these seminars, the students will be taken through extensive sexual assault issues. The sexual assault seminars should be organized and implemented after every three months. Students will get exposed to professional advice concerning the harmful implications of sexual violence on women and also men. Also, the community leaders, federal and local government representatives should be welcomed at the seminars to provide their insights and viable policy addresses that could be implemented to curb the increasing cases of sexual assault on U.S colleges. Else-Quest & Janet (2018) opined that all stakeholders must be involved to solve the ever-rising moral issues in modern society. Furthermore, student leaders should be given time to provide their comments on how to solve the pertinent issue. In addition, female students should be encouraged to take college leadership roles, which place them in strategic decisive decisions concerning the issue in the debate. 

The federal government should increase funding to research individuals and institutions researching the rise of sexual assault among college female students. By doing so, the research funds will be utilized in coming up with reliable and viable solutions to tackle the issue of sexual violence in U.S colleges and Universities. The U.S Federal and local governments should also act and implement proposal recommendations from the research grants. The U.S legislature should be at the forefront in debating and approving sexual assault bills within a short time frame. Laws on sexual assault that targets college female students can create deeper awareness and understanding of the need for rape victims to report the sex predators on time. 

The U.S Federal and local governments should also create sexual assault career awareness by constructing educational entities aimed at educating the students and the general public concerning sexual violence in society. Enrollees of such schools should encompass sexual assault victims who do not have healthy financial wellness. Financial aids and grants should also be channeled on these schools to enable the students to learn without interruptions of fees. Ideally, these educational entities should only teach concerning the risks involved in sexual violence among female college students. . Else-Quest & Janet (2018) concluded that educational and career programs are the best strategic solutions to minimize sexual assault in the long run. 

Two Pertinent Theories on Women 

Gender schema theory is a cognitive perspective aiming at educating and improving the overall psychology of women. The theory aims at investigating how women think, process, perceive, think and process information in the environment in which they live (Else-Quest and Janet, 2018). From the perspective of sexual assault, the schema is the general knowledge that college female students have concerning sexual violence and its long-term adverse consequences. Therefore, this theory can organize and guide female student's perceptions regarding rape in U.S colleges. Small girls gradually discover their gender orientation by processing and seeing mothers wear dresses and make-up while at home. Furthermore, this theory helps girls to observe girlhood behaviors like buying sanitary pads when menstruating. Also, the theory explains why girls wear skirts while boys wear trousers, girls being pretty while boys are tough and strong. For example, a five-year girl child can observe and think about a mother's daily house chores and dressing. When mothers cook and do house tasks, their small daughters observe and copy the same behaviors as they transition into adulthood. 

The g ender schema theory would greatly help women to eradicate the ever-rising cases of sexual assault in U.S colleges. It would enable the young college freshmen to perceive, think and learn from news concerning how to minimize the risk factors. Educational practitioners and college counselors could implement academic and other strategies aimed at changing the behaviors of female students at college. For example, posters on decent female dressing could be placed inside the campuses and this will make girls wear appropriate dress codes that do not lure college boys and other sex predators from advancing their sexual assault on them. Also, alcohol posters should be placed around the colleges, as this could make the college girls abscond from drinking while attending night college parties. In addition, risk factors should be posted on college noticeboards hence making the college girls avoid such factors that endanger and make them vulnerable to being sexually abused by sex predators. 

Secondly, Freud’s theory of psychosexual development aims at addressing human views concerning the development during the first five years of development ( Else-Quest and Janet, 2018) . Freud opined that an adult personality is anchored on past life experiences. Therefore, the early life experiences of a child are critical aspects and are determined as they transition into adulthood. At the phallic stage, girls discover that they do not have a penis compared to their male counterparts. From these observations, the girls will know that the penis is much superior compared to her clitoris and that it might provide her sexual satisfaction and impregnate her. Also, girls feel inferior to boys and think that their penes were cut off while they were young. Therefore, Freud's theory has an impact on understanding women and their susceptibility to getting sexually assaulted while on campus. Female college students who had abusive families while growing up may end up living unhealthy lifestyles in colleges like drinking alcohol and attending wild college parties at night. Also, this theory would greatly help parents and guardians in bringing up their girls robustly and holistically. For example, from the age of three years, mothers should teach their girls about risky behaviors that could make them prone to being sexually attacked by sex predators. Like walking at night alone, drinking alcohol, and abusing drugs like Cocaine. 

In conclusion, sexual assault targeting female college students in the United States has been on the rise. This not only causes negative psychological consequences on female students, but it eventually leads to class absenteeism, protests, physical and mental health issues among the sexual victims, and college dropouts. Rape also enhances the high prevalence rates of contracting HIV/AIDSs, STIs, Chlamydia, Cervical cancer, Hepatitis B, damaged virginal and gastrointestinal infections. Such infections may lead to long-term distress as it requires viable treatment and therapies that require enough funds. Therefore, the U.S Federal and local government, respective colleges, parents, and guardians should adopt viable long-term strategies to mitigate the rising cases of sexual violence targeting female college students. Such initiatives include regular screening and testing of female students, offering seminars and educational setups meant at educating and creating awareness on the seriousness of sexual violence in colleges. 


DeMatteo, D., Galloway, M., Arnold, S., & Patel, U. (2015). Sexual assault on college campuses: A 50-state survey of criminal sexual assault statutes and their relevance to campus sexual assault.  Psychology, Public Policy, and Law 21 (3), 227. 

Else-Quest, N., & Janet Shibley Hyde. (2018).  The psychology of women and gender : half the human experience . Sage. 

Graham, L. M., Treves-Kagan, S., Magee, E. P., DeLong, S. M., Ashley, O. S., Macy, R. J., ... & Bowling, J. M. (2017). Sexual assault policies and consent definitions: A nationally representative investigation of US colleges and universities.  Journal of School Violence 16 (3), 243-258. 

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