School Climate & Safety

How the AP Tracked Student-on-Student Sex Assault

By The Associated Press — May 02, 2017 2 min read
  • Save to favorites
  • Print

Sexual assault on college campuses has made headlines for years, but The Associated Press sought to determine whether it also is a problem among younger students and, if so, to what extent.

There are no federal requirements for elementary and secondary schools to report such assaults and academic research aimed at quantifying the number of assaults at schools throughout the U.S. has been based only on sample surveys.

The AP sent queries to public education departments in every state and the District of Columbia for all available years of statistics on sexual assaults by students. Ultimately, AP compared states across a four-year period—academic years 2011-2012 through 2014-2015 — the time frame with the most consistent reporting.

AP counted only those cases that met the federal government’s definition of sexual assault—"any type of sexual contact or behavior that occurs without the explicit consent of the recipient"—including forced sexual intercourse or sodomy, fondling and attempted rape. Excluded were minor incidents that might have resulted from childish misunderstandings and overly broad categories like sexual harassment or bullying, which included non-physical incidents or did not specify instances of sexual assault.

The education data included sexual assaults by students that led to discipline, as well as those that did not, and reflected offenses that occurred on school property or at school-sponsored events.

Few states kept information on victims, but data from states that tracked both showed the vast majority of student sexual attacks were against other students.

For states with no education data, AP looked to the National Incident-Based Reporting System, a voluntary network of official crime reports from participating states. AP used the two most recent publicly available years of NIBRS data (2013-2014) and filtered it for incidents at schools, both public and private.

The incidents counted were limited to only those occurring at an elementary or secondary school involving sexual assault codes for rape, sodomy, penetration with an object or unwanted fondling. Cases of statutory rape and consensual underage sex were excluded.

Incidents were further limited to only those involving victims and perpetrators between five and 19, the age group most likely falling into the K-12 student body. Cases without a known perpetrator — or cases where either the perpetrator’s or victim’s age was not provided—were excluded.

While AP’s accounting of schoolhouse sexual assault is a first of its kind, the number surely is an undercount because of missing and inconsistent data and a lack of oversight by states or the federal government.

Copyright 2017 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

Events

This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Sponsor
Data Webinar
Working Smarter, Not Harder with Data
There is a new paradigm shift in K-12 education. Technology and data have leapt forward, advancing in ways that allow educators to better support students while also maximizing their most precious resource – time. The
Content provided by PowerSchool
This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Sponsor
School & District Management Webinar
Deepen the Reach and Impact of Your Leadership
This webinar offers new and veteran leaders a unique opportunity to listen and interact with four of the most influential educational thinkers in North America. With their expert insights, you will learn the key elements
Content provided by Solution Tree
Science K-12 Essentials Forum Teaching Science Today: Challenges and Solutions
Join this event which will tackle handling controversy in the classroom, and making science education relevant for all students.

EdWeek Top School Jobs

Teacher Jobs
Search over ten thousand teaching jobs nationwide — elementary, middle, high school and more.
View Jobs
Principal Jobs
Find hundreds of jobs for principals, assistant principals, and other school leadership roles.
View Jobs
Administrator Jobs
Over a thousand district-level jobs: superintendents, directors, more.
View Jobs
Support Staff Jobs
Search thousands of jobs, from paraprofessionals to counselors and more.
View Jobs

Read Next

School Climate & Safety From Our Research Center Threats of Student Violence and Misbehavior Are Rising, Many School Leaders Report
A new EdWeek Research Center survey suggests a link between the return to in-person learning and behavior problems.
3 min read
School boy (11-13) sitting on chair in corridor outside principal's office, side view
DigitalVision/Getty
School Climate & Safety What the Research Says Bullying Dropped as Students Spent Less Time in In-Person Classes During Pandemic
Researchers based their findings on an analysis of internet searches on online and school-based harassment.
5 min read
Cyber bullying concept. Paper cut Woman head silhouette with bullying messages like disgusting, OMG!!, loser, hate, ugly, and stupid.
iStock/Getty Images Plus
School Climate & Safety Interactive School Shootings This Year: How Many and Where
Education Week is tracking K-12 school shootings in 2022. See the number of incidents and where they occurred in our map and data table.
2 min read
Sign indicating school zone.
iStock/Getty
School Climate & Safety Infographic School Shootings in 2021: 4 Takeaways, in Charts
In 2021, there were 34 school shootings that hurt or killed people, the most since 2018. Here's what we know about school shootings this year.
Illustration of a gun and a school in the background.
iStock/Getty collage