Statistics Canada says the national gross domestic product fell 11.6 per cent in April, in a June 30, 2020 story. (Photo by THE CANADIAN PRESS)

1 in 10 female post-secondary students sexually assaulted in school setting: study

Seventy-one per cent of post-secondary students said they witnessed or experienced unwanted sexualized behaviours

A new study says more Canadian university and college students who identify as women were sexually assaulted in a post-secondary setting over a year than those who identify as men, with the majority of sexual assaults perpetrated by other students.

Data released today by Statistics Canada show 11 per cent of students who identify as women were sexually assaulted in a college or university setting in the year before the survey, compared with four per cent of those who identify as men.

The study says sexual assaults in the post-secondary setting during that period most often took the form of unwanted sexual touching, which accounted for 86 per cent of incidents for women and 83 per cent for men.

It says other students were behind the sexual assaults in similar proportions for women and men — 60 per cent and 61 per cent, respectively.

The data show students also carried out the majority of other unwanted sexualized behaviours such as catcalls and unwelcome physical contact, with 80 per cent of women and 86 per cent of men who experienced such behaviours saying their peers were behind the incidents.

The study says relatively few students reported that a person in a position of authority, such as a professor, engaged in such conduct, but it was more common for women who had experienced unwanted sexualized behaviours than men.

The study notes that while the COVID-19 pandemic has triggered a shift to online learning over in-person classes, the data provide “important insight” for schools on how to better prevent and address such behaviours in post-secondary institutions.

“People who experience unwanted sexualized behaviours can feel disrespected, uncomfortable and unsafe, and this type of victimization can have immediate and long-term impacts on well-being and mental health,” the study says.

Seventy-one per cent of post-secondary students said they witnessed or experienced unwanted sexualized behaviours involving students or other people associated with the school either on or off campus or online, though more women were on the receiving end than men.

Forty-five per cent of women reported personally experiencing such behaviours, which include inappropriate communications and suggested sexual relations, compared with 32 per cent of men, according to the survey.

Women were more likely than men to view unwanted sexualized behaviours as offensive, though some, such as taking or posting inappropriate photos of any student without consent, were seen as offensive by large proportions of both women and men.

Forty per cent of male students agreed or strongly agreed that “people get too offended by sexual comments, jokes or gestures,” nearly double the proportion of female students who shared that view, the study showed.

More than half of women and just over 40 per cent of men said they had intervened at least once when witnessing unwanted sexual behaviours, though more than 90 per cent overall said there was at least one instance where they did not step in.

Women were more likely to report that they didn’t intervene because they felt uncomfortable, with 48 per cent citing that reason compared with 25 per cent of men.

More women also said they feared negative consequences — 28 per cent compared with 18 per cent of men — or were worried for their safety — 18 per cent compared with eight per cent of men.

More women who experienced unwanted sexual behaviours in a college or university setting also reported they felt fearful as a result, with 23 per cent of women and four per cent of men saying that was the case.

But few students who experienced unwanted sexual behaviours or were sexually assaulted said they discussed it with someone associated with the school.

Nine per cent of women and four per cent of men who experienced unwanted sexual behaviours said they disclosed what happened to someone at the school; eight per cent of women and six per cent of men who were sexually assaulted did so, the study says.

Three per cent of women who were sexually assaulted in a college or university setting said they reported an incident to police.

While the survey found most students expressed positive views about their school’s policies and procedures on sexual assaults and unwanted sexual behaviours, students who had experienced those things generally had more negative opinions on school policies than those who hadn’t.

Paola Loriggio, The Canadian Press

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Want to support local journalism? Make a donation here.

sexual assault

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

NDP calls snap election, Milobar running for re-election

B.C. Premier John Horgan announced on Monday that he will officially terminate… Continue reading

Citing stability, B.C. Premier calls snap election for Oct. 24

John Horgan meets with Lieutenant Governor to request vote

Williams Lake First Nation inks historic cannabis deal with B.C. government

The agreement paves the way for WLFN to sell cannabis to the government, and open stores across B.C.

Unofficial holidays: Here’s what people are celebrating for the week of Sept. 20 to 26

Rabbit Day, Hobbit Day and One-Hit Wonder Day are all coming up this week

Interior Health reports three additional COVID-19 cases in region

The number of cases in the region since the beginning of the pandemic are now at 492

B.C. reports 96 new COVID-19 cases, one hospital outbreak

61 people in hospital as summer ends with election

‘Unprecedented’ coalition demands end to B.C. salmon farms

First Nations, commercial fishermen among group calling for action on Cohen recommendations

Earthquake off coast of Washington recorded at 4.1 magnitude

The quake was recorded at a depth of 10 kilometres

B.C.’s top doctor says she’s received abuse, death threats during COVID-19 response

Henry has become a national figure during her time leading B.C.’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic

BC Liberals must change gears from election cynicism, focus on the issues: UBC professors

COVID-19 response and recovery is likely to dominate platforms

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

B.C. could be without a new leader for multiple weeks after Election Day: officials

More than 20K mail-in voting packages were requested within a day of B.C. election being called

Vancouver Island sailor stranded in U.S. hospital after suffering massive stroke at sea

Oak Bay man was attempting to circumnavigate the world solo

Majority needed to pass COVID-19 budget, B.C. premier says

John Horgan pushes urgent care centres in first campaign stop

Most Read