At the start of the school year, some colleges now hand out a sober warning along with new lanyards and room keys. New students are told about the "Red Zone"—the ominously named period between the start of classes and Thanksgiving break when researchers say new female students are especially likely to be sexually assaulted.
A new study suggests the risk of sexual violence extends beyond those first perilous weeks. Between the start of school and the summer after their freshman year, 18.6 percent of women surveyed at an unnamed college reported being raped or having endured an attempted rape, according to a study published Wednesday in the Journal of Adolescent Health. The National Institute of Justice's Campus Sexual Assault Study estimated in 2007 that one in five women are sexually assaulted in college, a number critics have called inflated. The new research finds the incidence of rape could be that high for women in the first year alone.