Are Your Campus Violence Stats Accurate?

VAWA Campus Crime Reporting | Clery Act Reporting

Posted on 14 May 2015 |

safety on campusNumbers, numbers, everywhere. That's the reality for college campuses now that the full implementation of the Violence Against Women Act is ready to go on July 1, 2015. In addition to providing training and resources for dealing with claims of campus sexual violence, colleges and universities have to collect and compile statistics on all kinds of crime and violence events. And just like on that calculus final, accuracy counts. 

Step one to providing the right kinds of data is understanding what information you need to collect. Here's a quick overview of some of the elements to get you started. A complete training program is recommended before the deadline -- the new requirements come with financial "teeth" that could impact your institution's funding levels. 

  • All crime the occurs within the Clery Act-defined geography* of a campus. This includes reports from identified and anonymous sources. Multiple reports of the same crime can be combined as one event in the statistics. 
  •  Reports that are later found to be false, mistaken or otherwise unfounded still have to be recorded in the total crime numbers report, although they are also listed a second time under a category as "Unfounded." Cases can only be declared "Unfounded" after a full investigation and upon the sworn statement of a designated authority. A court or jury decision does NOT make a report eligible for this exclusion.
  • The reports of all crimes need to include, at a minimum, date, time, place, nature and investigation of each event. A report is incomplete without any one of these elements. 
  • Hate crimes reports must include data on the elements believed to have motivated the violence (for instance, perceived ethnicity, religion or gender identity). It is not necessary to also include the victims' actual ethnicity, sexual preference, gender or religious membership. 
  • Reports of stalking, even without actual contact with the victim, must be included in the statistics. And reports of stalking by the same person across multiple calendar years must be reported in each year in which it occurs, even if the stalker and victim(s) are the same. 

There are many details and nuances with each of these pieces of the VAWA reporting puzzle. But starting the process now, before the full VAWA implementation in July is a good way to start on the road to full reporting compliance and a safer campus. 

* The Clery Act generally defines campus geography as the campus, public areas within the campus (roadways, sidewalks, thruways), and areas immediately accessible from the campus. But the unique design of each campus means that additional clarification might be needed to define the covered area for reporting purposes. 

Image credit: https://www.flickr.com/photos/hectoralejandro/

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