CRIME

One in four girls are sexually assaulted by age 18

Kerrigan Herret
Oxford Stories
kbherret@go.olemiss.edu

One in four girls are sexually assaulted by the age of 18.

One in six boys are sexually assaulted by the age of 18.

One in three victims of sexual assault are under the age of 12.

On all college campuses throughout the United States, 11.2 percent experience rape or sexual assault through physical force, violence, or incapacitation, according to mscasa.org and rainn.org. Sexual assault is real and happening daily.

Not even the small town of Oxford escapes these statistics. Men, women, boys, and girls, either on campus or off, have experienced trauma at the hands of sexual abuse. 

Sgt. Shayla McGuire, of the University of Mississippi Police Department, has dealt with a number of sexual assault cases. 

“There has been a growth in sexual assault cases, but I don’t think sexual assault, the crime, has increased, or the act has increased,” she said. “I think we’re doing a really good job of getting out, and supporting, and being an advocate. We’re giving students resources through outreach. They’re all working together, and I think that reporting has increased because people feel more comfortable coming to us.”

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Sgt. Shayla McGuire of the University of Mississippi Police Department in Oxford. Photo by Kerrigan Herret.

The University of Mississippi has a policy regarding sexual assault called Title IX. This program advocates the safety of students regarding sexual abuse and prohibits any sexual discrimination, which includes sexual violence, according umsafe.olemiss.edu. 

The University of Mississippi provides a free app to all students, faculty, staff, alumni, and parents called LiveSafe. According to olemiss.edu, LiveSafe provides a streamlined way for people to contact UM safety officials, and helps keep the campus safe by preventing crimes before they occur.

The University of Mississippi also has campus group called Rebels Against Sexual Assault. “This new student group works to raise awareness about sexual assault, relationship violence, and stalking while also supporting survivors from all walks of life,” according to umsafe.olemiss.edu. RASA provides common safety tips to help lessen the risk of sexual assault on campus.

Lt. Chris Case, of the Oxford Police Department, has seen a non-campus related growth in sexual assault. 

“The last several years have been kind of steady, but here recently, in the last sixty days, we’ve had several come to our police department,” Case said. “Most of the time, we do deal with students, but the ones that came recently were students unrelated to the university.”

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Lt. Chris Case of the Oxford Police Department in Oxford. Photo by Kerrigan Herret.

United Way in the city of Oxford has a Family Crisis Services division. FCS is dedicated to helping local families cope with the aftermath of crimes, such as sexual assault. According to unitedwayoxfordms.org, last year alone, they served 61 victims of crime, providing them with a safe place to receive advocacy and counseling services.

“We have a lot that are reported, but I think we have a lot more that aren’t reported,” Case said. 

According to the United States Department of Justice, 310 out of 1,000 sexual assault cases go unreported, which is about two out of three.

“We’re more of the criminal side, you know,” he said. “We’re looking for the perpetrator, and eventually trying to arrest him, and get an indictment, and get him charged. We do try to stay in touch with the victim from time to time, but Family Crisis and Title IX usually do that for us,” Case said.

Common safety tips advocated by law officials include using the “buddy system” and having a friend with you at all times to reduce risk of something happening, watching every drink being made while you are out drinking, having police departments and 911 programmed into your phone, and educating yourself. The university also provides a packet for sexual assault victims containing various information and resources to get help. 

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Contents of sexual assault packet provided by the University of Mississippi. Pages include various phone numbers, hotlines, resources, and information regarding the prosecution process. Photo by Kerrigan Herret.

“Try to educate yourself and try to join some of these organizations like RASA,” McGuire said. “Try to help change the culture.”

According to the United States Department of Justice, 93 percent of juvenile victims knew their perpetrator. 

“A majority of the time, most sexual assault is committed by somebody that you know,” McGuire said. “It’s by an acquaintance. So it’s not like a stranger that attacks you in an alley. It’s not like the movies you see on TV.”

Though sexual assault is an ongoing problem not only in the nation, but on the Ole Miss campus as well, there are several resources available for students. Reporting the assault is the first step to putting an end to these crimes.

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