Reports of sex offenses on college campuses provided to the Education Department have nearly doubled over a five-year period, the Associated Press reports. In a letter to Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-CA), department officials said they believe the increase is the result of federal enforcement efforts and growing public attention to the issues of campus sexual assault. In 2009, there were 3,357 sex offense cases reported to the department compared to 6,073 in 2013. Education and law enforcement officials say sex offenses are underreported crimes, and the true number of such cases is likely much higher.
The Obama administration has taken several steps to push colleges and universities to better tackle the problem of sexual assault, including releasing the names of colleges and universities facing Title IX investigations for their handling of such cases. Laura Palumbo of the National Sexual Violence Resource Center said the difference in the number of sex offense reports likely reflects that campuses are doing a better job following procedures and collecting and reporting such crimes. The Education Department’s Office of Civil Rights saw an increase in sexual violence complaints involving colleges and universities, from 9 in 2009 to 102 in 2014.