Sexual Assault on Campus: How Does Socioeconomic Background Determine a Student’s Likelihood to Report?

Student Author(s)

Melanie Julison

Faculty Mentor(s)

Dr. Sarah Estelle

Document Type


Event Date



This study examines the effect of students’ family income on the number of reported sexual assaults on U.S. college campuses. Media coverage of college sexual assault pervades the news cycle. Studies have shown that sexual assault not only negatively impacts individuals physically and psychologically, but also negatively impacts their productivity and future labor outcomes and wages. While many colleges have increased efforts toward awareness and implemented prevention programs for sexual violence, it is still underreported by the individual and by the schools. The U.S. Department of Education College Scorecard Data and Campus Safety and Security Data provide information on the socioeconomic makeup of colleges and the number of sexual assault reports annually of each college and university in the United States. Past studies indicate that an individual’s incentive to report crime is dependent on both their personal socioeconomic background and that of their environment. Social support is a benefit from reporting that may have a direct relationship with income. Potential social and psychological costs influence an individual’s decision to report sexual assault. By studying reporting of sexual assault at colleges across the nation, this research will determine whether college and individual characteristics influence the probability that sexual assault occurs and is reported.

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