CHARLOTTE, NC (WBTV) – The North Carolina Board of Education’s annual report on school crime and violence has been released, showing crime on campus is slightly down overall in the state.
But while a majority of the categories of crime individually decreased last year, sexual offenses reported by students saw a nearly 50 percent increase.
Sexual assaults saw a small increase from 107 to 115, and sexual offenses a 48.9 percent increase, from 47 to 70, more than any other category.
Cori Goldstein at Safe Alliance says it’s hard to pin why more students reported these crimes last year than before.
“But, when you’re looking at increased awareness, increased discussion, a lot more media presence and communicating around sexual assault, or sexual offense, that it most likely that more people are just coming forward,” she says.
Goldstein says students, like other people, are more comfortable now than ever because of this messaging. That, and education, could contribute to a rise in reported crimes.
“People are understanding and recognizing, ‘Oh wow, that was inappropriate, and maybe I was sexually assaulted or that was sexual offense,’” she says.
Goldstein says 90 percent of people know their perpetrator in these cases, which for kids can mean a peer or fellow student.
“It’s not stranger-danger education like we used to do,” she says. “It’s really helping them understand the correct words for their body parts…it’s teaching kids that it’s OK okay to say no, and understanding consent from an early age.”
And now, she says, more adults who experienced a sexual offense as a child in school are coming forward, decades later.
“They might also be disclosing for the second time, and the first time they disclosed someone didn’t believe them,” she says.
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