Colleges Cause Almost Half of All Campus Rapes
Exaggerated Political Correctness Trumps Using Proven Rape-Prevention Programs
By: Public Interest Law Professor John Banzhaf
Banzhaf notes that he is using the term "cause" in the legal sense, under which a rape or other injury can have many different causes; anything, including any breach of a legal duty, which is a significant factor can be a "cause."
For example, in a very famous case, a faulty door lock was found to be a cause of the rape of singer Connie Francis, even though the primary and most responsible cause was the criminal who bypassed the faulty lock and raped her at knife point. Nevertheless, Howard Johnson's was found liable in a civil law suit because its failure to keep the lock in good repair was found to be a "cause" of the rape.
According to psychology professor Charlene Senn, who has studied male violence against women for many years, virtually none of the campus anti-rape programs have been proven to actually reduce rape. But one approach has been shown to slash rapes by an astonishing 46% - and to reduce attempted rapes or other forms of sexual assault by 63% - is surprisingly being used in only a handful of U.S. colleges.
Instead, they spend millions on education programs trying to convince men not to rape, although such programs have been shown not to work.
Others also employ programs designed to encourage bystanders to intervene, but these also do not work, especially in the short run. This is not surprising, says Banzhaf, since most date rapes occur in private where there are no bystanders to intervene.
Refusing to use programs which have been proven effective, especially when several have been shown not only to reduce but to also actually slash rapes and attempted rapes, is wrong and a legal cause of many of these unnecessary rapes, says Banzhaf, just as failing to maintain locks and other security measures has been held to be a cause of rapes in other contexts.
Suppose, he says, there was an epidemic of a serious illness on campus, which was sickening many female students each semester.
If university doctors provided vaccinations against the disease. knowing that there was no proof that such injections reduced the incidence of the illness, it would constitute a clear case of malpractice, especially if the physicians knew of a pill which would slash the rate of infections by almost 50%.
A jury, faced with such a situation, might even be inclined to award punitive damages to any female students who suffered as a result, especially if the doctors led the students to believe that the vaccine was effective, and failed to tell them of an alternative which could have protected them, argues Banzhaf.
The reason why so few institutions of higher education have even tried using these proven programs seems to be exaggerated political correctness.
As the respected Chronicle of Higher Education [CHE] just documented, the objection is that "the courses put the burden on women to protect themselves, instead of teaching men not to rape."
However, Banzhaf notes that, to reduce bicycle theft on campuses, colleges teach students how to take preventive measures (e.g., not leaving them unlocked, overnight, and/or in a lightly trafficked area).
Despite this "burden," universities do not have educational programs designed to encourage people not to steal bicycles, nor to encourage students to intervene if they see a bicycle about to be stolen.
The same strategies are also used to reduce other serious crimes which affect students: e.g., having their laptops stolen if left unattended in libraries, having items taken from dorm rooms which were left unlocked, being robbed or beaten when venturing alone at night into into high crime areas, etc.
All arguably place the "burden" on students, male as well as female, to modify their behaviors in certain ways, but no one apparently sees much wrong in encouraging students to be safer, and few criticize universities for failing to try to teach people not to steal, rob, or beat up others.
Prof. Seen. a feminist who has devoted her life to helping women, helped develop these programs which teach women "how to speak up, say 'no,' and act assertively to reduce their risk of experiencing violence."
As part of these programs, according to CHE, "women talk about how they've been socialized — how they've been encouraged to be the nice girl, to be polite, to be compliant. They practice speaking up when their boundaries are crossed."
In this regard, it is also noteworthy that, in addition to protecting women from becoming victims of rape, studies showed that "not only did the course reduce the risk of sexual assault, the women who had been victims said it helped their recovery process and made them less likely to blame themselves for what had happened."
So, since women who have been raped are less likely to blame themselves if they have taken the course, even exaggerated notions of political correctness, and fear of "blaming the victim," should not deter colleges from using techniques which have been proven - according to an article in the New England Journal of Medicine and elsewhere - to prevent almost half of all collegiate rapes.