Investigating multiple layers of influence on sexual assault in a university setting
Sexual assault is a major public issue on college campuses; approximately 20 to 50 percent of female and up to 31 percent of male college students report being sexually victimized while in college. To date, little research has been conducted in this area that investigates interactions between intrapersonal, interpersonal, institutional, community, and societal factors that influence campus sexual assault. The main purpose of this study was to examine interactions between different layers of influence on campus sexual assault. The present study utilized a quantitative, cross-sectional design (n=677) with online delivery of survey research. Overall, 191 (28.0 percent) participants reported being sexually assaulted since the beginning of their college career, and a total of 4.8 percent (32 participants) of the sample reported perpetration since the beginning of their college career. Prior victimization was the strongest predictor of both victimization (β=2.779; p<0.001; Odds ratio=16.100) and perpetration (β=2.551; p<0.001; Odds ratio=12.823) since the start of college. Further, those who received sexual assault prevention education had had better views of the institution than those who did not (F=5.702; p=0.001). Being a victim or perpetrator did not have an effect on institutional variables. Lastly, neither rape myth acceptance nor injunctive peer norms significantly moderated the relationship between binge drinking and perpetration since the start of college. This study has promising implications for future research as well as for public health education practitioners, college administrators, and health policy experts. Coordinated national, state, and local efforts are needed to change the climate in institutions of higher education that truly promote safe, healthy relationships and behaviors in college students.