Canada

Campus sexual assault reports: How we did it

The methodology for the CBC News investigation of sexual assaults on Canadian campuses explained, from the initial contact to compiling the data.
(CBC)

Sexual violence on or near college and university campuses is a major concern. Statisticians, law enforcement officials and experts on sexual violence tell us that it is extremely hard to get a true picture of its prevalence wherever it takes place.

In researching the issue, it became clear there is no central location for Canadians to find even rudimentary statistics on sexual assaults reported to universities and colleges in this country. 

At the same time, experts in the field told us compiling those statistics would help parents and students ask questions about how universities are collecting, recording and responding to sexual assault reports on their campus.

The survey is not a scorecard. It is not a scientific study.  While the format is a list, please note that institutions cannot be directly compared because their definitions, methods of gathering, and reporting differ.

To help analyze the data we hired University of Toronto statistics professor, Jeffrey Rosenthal.

Details

In the summer of 2014, CBC News began contacting all of the universities in Canada that had more than 1,000 full-time students enrolled in 2013. We also contacted colleges that have more than 10,000 full-time students enrolled.

We asked each institution for the number of reports of sexual assault, broken down by year, between 2009 and 2013. If an institution posted its statistics online, we used that data.

We gathered complete numbers for those five years from 77 colleges and universities.

In compiling our data, we included reports of sexual assault that occurred both on- and off-campus. When a school did not make that distinction, we included all of the reports they provided.

We included reports that were made to police, but were also reported to the university, either by police or by the complainant. We included all sexual assault reports from the colleges and universities whether or not they resulted in a criminal prosecution or disciplinary action.

We did not include reports that did not fit the Criminal Code definition of sexual assault. If a university provided us with incomplete data, we did not produce a per capita figure, but we included those reports in calculating our total figure. If a university provided information broken down by academic year, they were given the opportunity to convert it to calendar year. If they couldn’t, their data was excluded from all of our calculations.

In some cases, CBC News submitted access to information requests to obtain the reports from institutions

In calculating per capita figures, we use 'incidents per 10,000 students.'

Limitations

  • Institutions differ in the way they gather and report data.
  • Schools have differing mechanisms in place to assist students to report sexual assault, which can influence the number of reports.

Goal

  • To provide a tool to help parents and students ask questions of the universities and colleges they attend or may attend.

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