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MU researcher calls for increase in sexual assault awareness programs on college campuses
Date:12/2/2008

COLUMBIA, Mo. The statistics for sexual assault are unsettling; the Department of Justice reports that one in five college women will be the victim of attempted or actual sexual assault during their college years. In a new study, researchers from two universities, including the University of Missouri, have found that college women often are unaware of drug-facilitated sexual assault and fail to recognize the risk of certain behaviors, including leaving drinks unattended.

"These findings are very concerning; although college women appear to have knowledge about date-rape drugs, they often are not able to apply this knowledge in the appropriate context," said Zachary Birchmeier, senior research analyst in the University of Missouri Truman School of Public Affairs. "Considering the high rates of sexual assault, it is clear there is an urgent need to better inform students about self-protection. Education and prevention efforts should focus on debunking rape myths and increasing awareness of drug-facilitated sexual assault."

In the study, conducted at Miami University in Oxford, Ohio, more than 400 female undergraduates rated their perceptions of risk after reading a short story about an acquaintance rape. The researchers, including Emily Crawford, primary investigator of the study at Miami University, evaluated the relationship among risk factors that may increase victims' susceptibility to sexual assault, including prior victimization, behavioral choices and risk perception in responding to the threat of drug-facilitated sexual assault. They measured awareness of risk in accepting drinks from male acquaintances and leaving drinks unattended. Other researchers have not thoroughly investigated these issues.

The researchers found that college students identified the risk associated with having others pour their drinks; however, they did not recognize the risk of leaving their drinks unattended. A significant number of study particip
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Contact: Emily Smith
SmithEA@missouri.edu
573-882-3346
University of Missouri-Columbia
Source:Eurekalert

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