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Sexual misconduct reports at Cambridge University.

Sexual misconduct reports at Cambridge University.

Trust in universities’ ability to safeguard students and staff from sexual abuse will remain low until reports of sexual misconduct are in triple figures, according to Graham Towl, former chief psychologist for the Ministry of Justice.

The University of Cambridge has now passed that point, with 173 reports received through our anonymous reporting tool between its introduction in May 2017 and 31 January 2018. The start of an awareness campaign against sexual misconduct called Breaking the Silence in October 2017 prompted the second largest spike in reports.

Several other universities have introduced similar anonymous reporting tools, such as the University of Manchester, but Cambridge is the first to publish such a high number of reports.

We expected high numbers, and view it as a metric of success. It appears victims have confidence in our promise that these figures will be used to judge the nature and scale of sexual misconduct affecting students and staff, and to act on it accordingly.

Under-reporting of sexual misconduct is a problem generally, not just in universities. According to the National Sexual Violence Resource Center in the US, more than 90% of those who were sexually assaulted on campus did not report it. The charity Rape Crisis describes the numbers in terms of a pyramid. The wide base is the total number of incidents, reports of incidents are in the middle and at the tip are the few that result in convictions.

Read more.


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