Virginia's Plan to Crack Down on Campus Rape Could Backfire

A proposal by Virginia lawmakers to make schools that receive state funding report all campus rapes to police may have unintended consequences

High school students light candles along the stage of the University of Virginia's McIntire Amphitheatre in Charlottesville, Va., during a vigil in support of sexual-assault victims

Ryan M. Kelly/The Daily Progress via AP Photo

Virginia legislators, certain that schools are ill-equipped to handle sexual violence on their own, will propose a law next month that would require state schools to report all sexual assault cases to local law enforcement. If colleges are forced to work with police, a group of nine state lawmakers reason, they won’t get to sweep sexual violence under the rug. Yet new data that delve into why college students often don't report rape suggests the plan could backfire, making the aftermath of an assault even more dangerous for survivors and adding a barrier to reporting rape.

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