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)

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

A partnership is looking to identify skeletal remains that were discovered by recreational divers in the Gorge Waterway this February. (Black Press Media File Photo)
Divers find partial human skull in Gorge Waterway

B.C. Coroner Service determines remains likely historical, not ancestral

This rendering shows the proposed warehouse for lands under the authority of the Victoria Airport Authority near a Sidney residential neighbourhood. (York Realty/Submitted).
Sidney calls on Victoria Airport Authority to improve design of planned warehouse

Council stops short of a definitive statement for or against proposal

The Victoria Police Department is looking for help identifying a person of interest after an April 29 hit-and-run. (VicPD handout)
Victoria police looking for suspect in hit-and-run investigation

The suspect was driving a four-door grey Dodge Ram 1500 truck

A man was arrested after allegedly threatening people downtown on May 10 while brandishing this knife. (Photo courtesy of VicPD)
Man armed with a knife arrested for allegedly threatening people in downtown Victoria

Officers used de-escalation techniques during afternoon arrest

A bullet hole is seen in the windshield of an RCMP vehicle approximately 4 km from Vancouver International Airport after a one person was killed during a shooting outside the international departures terminal at the airport, in Richmond, B.C., Sunday, May 9, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
Homicide team IDs man in fatal YVR shooting as police grapple with spate of gang violence

Man, 20, charged in separate fatal shooting Burnaby over the weekend

Two-year-old Kashius Weme rides at the Steve Smith Memorial Bike Park in Nanaimo on Tuesday, May 11. The youngster’s precocious bike-riding ability is already attracting cycle sponsors. (Chris Bush/News Bulletin)
2-year-old bike rider on Vancouver Island already attracting cycle sponsors

Nanaimo’s Kashius Weme has a knack for extreme cycle sports

Keith MacIntyre - BC Libertarian
Penticton’s Keith MacIntyre new leader of the B.C. Libertarian Party

The Penticton businessman was voted in by members of the party on May 8

RCMP are searching for Philip Toner, who is a 'person of interest' in the investigation of a suspicious death in Kootenay National Park last week. Photo courtesy BC RCMP.
Man sought in suspicious Kootenay death found in Lake Country

Philip Toner is a person of interest in the death of Brenda Ware

Vernon North Okanagan RCMP reported to 287 mental health calls between Jan. 1, 2021, and May 1. (Black Press files)
‘It’s not the police’s responsibility to deal with mental health calls’: Vernon RCMP

RCMP remind public to take care of mental health and well-being, while better solutions are sought

Thompson Rivers University campus is in Kamloops, B.C. (KTW file photo)
Thompson Rivers the 1st B.C. university to supply free menstrual products

The university will offer the products this September

Fraser Health is using ‘targeted’ vaccination clinics in high-risk areas of the Lower Mainland. (Fraser Health photo)
B.C.’s COVID-19 decrease continues, 515 new cases Tuesday

426 seriously ill people in hospital, up from 415 Monday

A scene from the Schoolhouse Squat from October 2018, where Alliance Against Displacement members and supporters occupied the Rutherford Elementary School site, advocating for people experiencing homelessness. (News Bulletin file)
‘Schoolhouse Squat’ activists get conditional discharge in Nanaimo school occupation

Ivan Donald Drury, Tingchun (Listen) Chen sentenced in provincial court in Nanaimo

The site of Sunfest, Laketown Ranch, will be open for camping this summer. (Citizen file)
Sunfest country music bash won’t be shining on B.C. in 2021

Annual Vancouver Island Festival cancelled due to COVID-19, along with Laketown Shakedown

Most Read