Overall crime rates have fallen over the past decade on the nation’s college campuses, but the number of reported forcible sex crimes on campus has substantially increased, according to federal data released Wednesday.
Postsecondary institutions reported a 34 percent decline in crimes between 2001 and 2013, with decreases in every category except forcible sex crimes, which rose 120 percent over the same period.
It is not clear whether sex crimes are occurring more frequently or whether victims have become more willing to report them as advocates have helped raise public awareness about sexual assault and colleges’ duty to combat it.
The data is part of a wide-ranging report on safety in the nation’s K-12 schools and postsecondary institutions, covering issues including drug use, bullying, discipline and security measures.
The report, compiled from multiple federal data sources by the U.S. Education and Justice departments, shows improvements on many measures since the early 1990s.
Adolescents were 82 percent less likely to be the victim of crimes at school in 2014 than they were in 1992, for example. And amid intensifying concern about classroom bullying, the proportion of public schools reporting regular bullying fell from 29 percent in 2000 to 16 percent in 2014.
That mirrors previously released data showing that, over time, fewer students are reporting that they have been bullied.
“The data show that we have made progress — bullying is down, crime is down, but it’s not enough,” said Peggy Carr, acting commissioner of the National Center for Education Statistics. “There is still much policymakers should be concerned about. Incident levels are still much too high.”
The report also shows that the number of juvenile offenders housed in residential facilities fell by nearly 50 percent between 1997 and 2013. There are stark differences among racial groups: In 2013, black youths were 4.6 times as likely as white youths to be housed in such facilities.
The report shows falling levels of alcohol use among high school students: In 2013, 35 percent of them said they’d had a drink within the previous 30 days, down from 48 percent in 1993.
But marijuana use has risen over the same period: In 2013, 23 percent of high school students said they had used pot at least one time in the previous 30 days, up from 18 percent in 1993.