Geographical Variation in the Relationship Between Religiosity and Campus Sexual Assault: Differences in Prevalence or Reporting?

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Sarah L. Jirek
Philip Truscott


campus sexual assault, rape, religiosity, Clery Act, rape reportage gap, social ecology, moral community hypothesis, violence prevention


In this study, we use the 2014 Pew Religious Landscape Study and Clery Act institution-level data to investigate the relationship between state-level religiosity and campus sexual assault rates in the U.S. We found a strong negative correlation (r = -0.54, p < 0.001) between the reported rates of campus sexual assault and religious service attendance in the 50 U.S. states. Two possible explanations for the correlation, along with their divergent implications, are discussed: differences in reporting and differences in prevalence. In exploratory analyses, we used the 2007-2014 National Crime Victimization Survey to examine regional differences in rape incident victimization and reportage, but we could not rule out the explanation that there are genuine prevalence differences across geographical regions. We argue that, due to the significant policy issues at stake, a campus sexual assault victimization survey that includes state-level geographical data for the entire U.S. is needed.

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