Is On-Campus Crime Getting Worse?

Headline-making crimes have caused many to question whether or not college campuses are a safe place, and have prompted universities to respond with updated safety plans and protocols. And although it seems like we’re constantly hearing about some new incident, just how common is college crime? And moreover, is it getting worse? We took a look at on-campus crime rates spanning over 13 years to find out.

Is College Crime Getting Worse?

Though there may be heightened conversations surrounding how to make our college campuses safer, overall crime on college campuses actually decreased by 35% from 2001 to 2014, according to the latest data available from the National Center for Education Statistics.

is college crime getting better or worse?

There was an uptick in crime by 7% between 2001 and 2006; however, the number of reported crimes on college campuses began to fall starting in 2007. In fact, there was a decrease in every crime category except for forcible sexual offenses, which increased by an alarming 205% in this same time period.

So what’s the cause behind this decrease in on-campus crime? There are likely many different factors at play here. For instance, due to increased conversations surrounding college safety, students may be taking extra precaution to protect themselves from becoming victims. Another likely factor is that universities are taking more aggressive steps to ensure their campuses are safe places. For instance, between 2005 and 2015, the number of both public and private universities using armed on-campus police officers increased by 10%.

But perhaps a darker reason is also at play. The statistics provided above only represent reported on-campus crimes, meaning it’s certain that there more crimes that have occurred but have gone unreported. For instance, despite overwhelming research showing that forcible sexual assaults are regular occurrences on college campuses, 89% of universities reported zero incidents in 2015. This is an alarming sign that these campuses still do not have the proper processes in place to handle incidents and support students who report themselves as victims.

Most Common Crimes Committed on College Campuses

Despite data showing that crimes occurring on college campuses has lessened, there are still a few crime categories that are unfortunately all too prevalent. For instance, in 2014, burglary accounted for 50% of reported on-campus crime. Sex offenses accounted for 25% of all reported incidents, while motor vehicle theft accounted for 11% of all reported crime.

most common crimes committed on college campuses

On the other hand, crimes that are found to occur least often on college campuses include murder, manslaughter, and non-forcible sex offenses.

Student Resources and Tips

College students have quite a few resources available to them. On-campus police are a great resource to be aware of, and it’s important to make sure you know where the police station is located. Also, make sure you know the direct line to call to avoid being redirected at a time when you need immediate help.

Students should also be sure to familiarize themselves with campus routes, and the areas around campus. If you’re taking night classes, be sure to know which parking structures are closest to your classes, and the most well-lit walking routes are. It’s also a good idea to make friends with people in those classes so you can have a buddy to walk to and from class with.

Finally, always travel in groups. This, of course, applies to going out on the weekends, but don’t discount this during the week as well. Crime isn’t a weekend only event. If you live off-campus, make friends with your neighbors and figure out school schedules. Or see if there is a way to get picked up/dropped off by friends or roommates. Even just having one other person to walk or travel within general is definitely a great idea.

Although college crime is on an overall decline, that doesn’t mean it isn’t still occurring. Educate yourself each semester, and take precautions. College is supposed to be a great time, and a key part of having a great time is staying safe.

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