UNH Researchers: Campus sexual assault significantly affects academics
Written by NH1 News on .
DURHAM — New research from the University of New Hampshire has found that sexual assault on college campuses significantly affects academic performance.
Victoria Banyard, a professor of psychology and part of the Prevention Innovations Research Center at UNH, as well as the study’s lead author, said the study helps support and sustain important campus programs for victims of sexual assault.
“When it comes to discussions about helping address specific issues for these students," Banyard said. "There is much more research about services that help victims with emotional stressors than research to document academic ones.”
The study, which was recently published in the Journal of Interpersonal Violence, found that students who experienced sexual violence on campus had significantly lower academic efficacy, along with higher stress, lower institutional commitment and lower scholastic conscientiousness than other students.
Researchers said they used questionnaires to survey 6,482 students, men and women, from eight universities in New England.
They identified stressors around the following four areas of sexual violence: unwanted sexual contact, unwanted sexual intercourse, intimate partner violence, and stalking.
The study also measured four academic outcomes that are important for college success and could be impacted by sexual violence including academic efficacy, collegiate stress, institutional commitment, and scholastic conscientiousness.
Researchers said there were significant findings for three of the four forms of victimization, across all four of the academic measures.
Past studies show approximately 19 to 25 percent of women will experience attempted or complete rape while enrolled in college and approximately 20 to 50 percent of students will experience intimate partner violence during their college years, the study said.
Researchers said that sexually victimized students, before or during college, are more likely to drop classes, change residences and have lower GPAs. This has universities being confronted with the question of how to attend to the needs of these students.
“We hope this study will better help universities and counselors devote resources to programs that will help victims physically, mentally, and also academically,” Ellen Cohn, professor of psychology and co-author of the study, said. “Universities strive to offer a higher education to their students and when violence like this happens, it affects their overall mission.”