Nav: Home

Sexual assault victimization disproportionately affects certain minority college students

March 17, 2017

Sexual Assault Victimization Disproportionately Affects Certain Minority College Students; Inclusive Campus Climates May Lower Risk

PITTSBURGH, March 17, 2017 - Students who perceive that their college campus is more inclusive and welcoming of sexual- and gender-minority people have lower odds of being victims of sexual assault, according to a study led by the University of Pittsburgh Graduate School of Public Health and published today in the Journal of Interpersonal Violence.

In a complementary study, the researchers found that some minority groups are at considerably higher risk for sexual assault in college than peers in majority groups. Published recently in the journal Prevention Science, it is among the first analyses to explore how populations with intersecting minority identities have varying risks of sexual assault victimization.

"Despite the formation of The White House Task Force to Protect Students from Sexual Assault in 2014, few interventions have been shown to be effective in preventing such assault. Even fewer interventions are tailored for racial and ethnic minorities, and not one intervention has been evaluated with sexual- and gender-minority people," said Robert Coulter, M.P.H., a doctoral candidate in Pitt Public Health's Department of Behavioral and Community Health Sciences and lead author of both studies. "Our studies highlight the need for college prevention and treatment programs to focus efforts on sexual, gender, racial and ethnic minority groups."

Coulter and his team analyzed surveys completed by 71,421 undergraduate students from 120 U.S. post-secondary education institutions between 2011 and 2013.
  • Non-transgender women had nearly 150 percent greater odds of being sexually assaulted in the past year than non-transgender men.

  • But transgender people were at even greater risk: They had nearly 300 percent higher odds of being sexually assaulted than non-transgender men.

  • Among non-transgender men, gay and bisexual men had higher odds of sexual assault than heterosexual men, and black men had higher odds than white men.

  • Among non-transgender women, bisexual women had higher odds of sexual assault than heterosexual women. Compared with white women, black women had higher odds of sexual assault, while Latino and Asian women had lower odds.

  • Among transgender people, black transgender people had higher odds of sexual assault than white transgender people.

"What is particularly unique about this analysis, aside from being one of the largest studies to examine sexual assault on college campuses, is that it provided insights into how sexual assault varies among populations with multiple and intersecting marginalized identities--such as being both transgender and black," said Coulter.

In their other study, Coulter and his team examined surveys completed by nearly 2,000 sexual- and gender-minority undergraduates from colleges in all 50 U.S. states.

Students who perceived that their campus was more inclusive of sexual- and gender-minority people had 27 percent lower odds of having been sexually assaulted than their peers who felt their campus was less inclusive.

The researchers hypothesize that sexual- and gender-minority inclusive campus climates may embolden bystanders to stop, or attempt to stop, sexual assault of sexual- and gender-minority people. Such campuses also may dissuade perpetrators from targeting sexual- and gender-minority people. Additionally, inclusive campuses may empower people to reduce their likelihood of becoming sexual assault victims by, for example, being cautious when drinking alcohol.

Examples of potential ways to make colleges more inclusive include programs that train faculty, staff and students how to be allies for sexual- and gender-minority people; forming resource centers and student groups for these minorities; as well as creating and enforcing anti-discrimination policies that protect these groups.

"If sexual assault prevention efforts solely focus on heterosexual violence, they may invalidate sexual- and gender-minority people's assault experiences and be ineffective for them," said Coulter. "To overcome this, existing programs could be augmented to explicitly address homophobia, biphobia, transphobia and racism. And new interventions could be created specifically for sexual, gender, racial and ethnic minorities."
-end-
Susan R. Rankin, Ph.D., of Rankin & Associates Consulting in Howard, Pa., is co-author on the Journal of Interpersonal Violence study.

Additional authors on the Prevention Science study are Christina Mair, Ph.D., and Derrick Matthews, Ph.D., M.P.H., both of Pitt; Elizabeth Miller, M.D., Ph.D., of Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh of UPMC; John R. Blosnich, Ph.D., of the Department of Veterans Affairs; and Heather L. McCauley, Sc.D., of Michigan State University.

This research was supported by National Institutes of Health grants F31DA037647, K12HD043441 and R01AA023260, Department of Veterans Affairs grant CDA 14-408, and Campus Pride.

About the University of Pittsburgh Graduate School of Public Health

The University of Pittsburgh Graduate School of Public Health, founded in 1948 and now one of the top-ranked schools of public health in the United States, conducts research on public health and medical care that improves the lives of millions of people around the world. Pitt Public Health is a leader in devising new methods to prevent and treat cardiovascular diseases, HIV/AIDS, cancer and other important public health problems. For more information about Pitt Public Health, visit the school's Web site at http://www.publichealth.pitt.edu.

http://www.upmc.com/media

University of Pittsburgh Schools of the Health Sciences

Related Public Health Articles:

Public health guidelines aim to lower health risks of cannabis use
Canada's Lower-Risk Cannabis Use Guidelines, released today with the endorsement of key medical and public health organizations, provide 10 science-based recommendations to enable cannabis users to reduce their health risks.
Study clusters health behavior groups to broaden public health interventions
A new study led by a University of Kansas researcher has used national health statistics and identified how to cluster seven health behavior groups based on smoking status, alcohol use, physical activity, physician visits and flu vaccination are associated with mortality.
Public health experts celebrate 30 years of CDC's prevention research solutions for communities with health disparities
It has been 30 years since CDC created the Prevention Research Centers (PRC) Program, currently a network of 26 academic institutions across the US dedicated to moving new discoveries into the communities that need them.
Public health experts support federally mandated smoke-free public housing
In response to a new federal rule mandating smoke-free policies in federally funded public housing authorities, three public health experts applaud the efforts of the US Department of Housing and Urban Development to protect nonsmoking residents from the harmful effects of tobacco exposure.
The Lancet Public Health: UK soft drinks industry levy estimated to have significant health benefits, especially among children
The UK soft drinks industry levy, due to be introduced in April 2018, is estimated to have significant health benefits, especially among children, according to the first study to estimate its health impact, published in The Lancet Public Health.
Social sciences & health innovations: Making health public
The international conference 'Social Sciences & Health Innovations: Making Health Public' is the third event organized as a collaborative endeavor between Maastricht University, the Netherlands, and Tomsk State University, the Russian Federation, with participation from Siberian State Medical University (the Russian Federation).
Columbia Mailman School Awards Public Health Prize to NYC Health Commissioner Dr. Mary T.
Dr. Mary T. Bassett, Commissioner of the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, was awarded the Frank A.
Poor health literacy a public health issue
America's poor record on health literacy is a public health issue, but one that can be fixed -- not by logging onto the internet but by increased interaction with your fellow human beings, a Michigan State University researcher argues.
Despite health law's bow to prevention, US public health funding is dropping: AJPH study
Although the language of the Affordable Care Act emphasizes disease prevention -- for example, mandating insurance coverage of clinical preventive services such as mammograms -- funding for public health programs to prevent disease have actually been declining in recent years.
'Chemsex' needs to become a public health priority
Chemsex -- sex under the influence of illegal drugs -- needs to become a public health priority, argue experts in The BMJ this week.

Related Public Health Reading:

Best Science Podcasts 2019

We have hand picked the best science podcasts for 2019. Sit back and enjoy new science podcasts updated daily from your favorite science news services and scientists.
Now Playing: TED Radio Hour

Digital Manipulation
Technology has reshaped our lives in amazing ways. But at what cost? This hour, TED speakers reveal how what we see, read, believe — even how we vote — can be manipulated by the technology we use. Guests include journalist Carole Cadwalladr, consumer advocate Finn Myrstad, writer and marketing professor Scott Galloway, behavioral designer Nir Eyal, and computer graphics researcher Doug Roble.
Now Playing: Science for the People

#529 Do You Really Want to Find Out Who's Your Daddy?
At least some of you by now have probably spit into a tube and mailed it off to find out who your closest relatives are, where you might be from, and what terrible diseases might await you. But what exactly did you find out? And what did you give away? In this live panel at Awesome Con we bring in science writer Tina Saey to talk about all her DNA testing, and bioethicist Debra Mathews, to determine whether Tina should have done it at all. Related links: What FamilyTreeDNA sharing genetic data with police means for you Crime solvers embraced...