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

The District of Tofino has put new restrictions in place around alcohol at public events. (Westerly file photo)
Tofino puts new restrictions on alcohol at public events

Town’s council adopts Municipal Alcohol Policy.

Stand up paddleboarder Christie Jamieson is humbled to her knees as a pod of transient orcas put on a dramatic show on Jan. 19 in the Ucluelet Harbour. (Nora O’Malley photo)
UPDATED WITH VIDEO: Ucluelet paddle boarder surrounded by pod of orcas

“My whole body is still shaking. I don’t even know what to do with this energy.”

Gord John stands during question period in Ottawa in Sept. 2020. (PHOTO COURTESY CHRISTIAN DIOTTE, HOUSE OF COMMONS PHOTO SERVICES)
2020: A Year in Review with Courtenay-Alberni MP Gord Johns

NDP MP wants to ‘build back better’ in 2021

Tofino expects to elect a new mayor and two new councillors on March 6. (Westerly file photo)
Nomination period begins for Tofino byelection

Tofino is set to replace former mayor Josie Osborne, who is now the Mid Island-Pacific Rim MLA.

Tla-o-qui-aht First Nation Chantel Moore, 26, was fatally shot by a police officer during a wellness check in the early morning of June 4, 2020, in Edmundston, N.B. (Facebook)
Quebec’s BEI completes investigation into Chantel Moore’s fatal shooting by Edmundston police officer

New Brunswick’s public prosecutions services and chief coroner to conduct public hearing

Maj.-Gen. Dany Fortin, vice-president of logistics and operations at the Public Health Agency of Canada, speaks at a news conference on the COVID-19 pandemic in Ottawa, on Friday, Jan. 15, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Justin Tang
B.C. records 500 new COVID-19 cases Wednesday, 14 deaths

Outbreak at Surrey Pretrial jail, two more in health care

Francina Mettes and Thomas Schouten with the 200-page document they submitted in December of 2018. (Travis Paterson/News Staff)
Dutch man, 94, facing unwanted trip home can stay in B.C. with wife of 45 years

Immigration offices cuts red tape so couple of 45 years can stay together in Victoria area

Health Minister Adrian Dix looks on as Dr. Bonnie Henry pauses for a moment as she gives her daily media briefing regarding Covid-19 for the province of British Columbia in Victoria, B.C, Monday, December 7, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
B.C. Premier, health officials to discuss next steps in COVID immunization plan

Nearly 31,000 doses of vaccine the province expected by Jan. 29 could be curtailed due to production issues

Homalco First Nation said that it will intervene in the judicial review sought by aquaculture companies with regards to federal decision to phase out 19 Discovery Island fish farms by 2022. In this picture from Sept. 24, a demonstrator wears representations of sea lice outside the Fisheries and Oceans Canada offices in downtown Vancouver.(Quinn Bender photo)
Chief says push for fish farm judicial review a challenge to reconciliation, Aboriginal Rights

Homalco First Nation chief reacts to Mowi and Cermaq intervention in Discovery Island decision

Vancouver Canucks’ Travis Hamonic grabs Montreal Canadiens’ Josh Anderson by the face during first period NHL action in Vancouver, Wednesday, Jan. 20, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Horvat scores winner as Canucks dump Habs 6-5 in shootout thriller

Vancouver and Montreal clash again Thursday night

A suspect has been arrested in connection with fires at Drinkwater Elementary (pictured) and École Mount Prevost. (Kevin Rothbauer/Citizen)
Arson suspect arrested after fires at Cowichan Valley schools

Drinkwater Elementary and Mount Prevost schools hit within a week

A woman writes a message on a memorial mural wall by street artist James “Smokey Devil” Hardy during a memorial to remember victims of illicit drug overdose deaths on International Overdose Awareness Day, in the Downtown Eastside of Vancouver, on Monday, August 31, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
B.C. paramedics respond to record-breaking number of overdose calls in 2020

On the front lines, COVID-19 has not only led to more calls, but increased the complexity

Chartwell Malaspina Care Residence in Nanaimo. (News Bulletin file photo)
Two Nanaimo care-home residents have died during COVID-19 outbreak

Death reported Monday was the second related to Chartwell Malaspina outbreak, says Island Health

Most Read