Recently the Justice Department released new statistics showing an 85 percent drop in rape cases since the 1970s. Feeling a little skeptical?
Because of the complexity of circumstances surrounding a rape and the stigma often attached to rape victims, it is common knowledge that many rapes go unreported. However, these recently released stats come from a combination of police reports, reported rapes and a National Crime Victims Survey that tracks unreported crimes. And the decline has been steady — not a sudden dip that could imply a one-time statistical error.
So what has changed? Some say that rape has declined because of a reduction in the lawlessness associated with crack cocaine, a shrinking population of young people and an increased number of criminals in jail. Others believe that Americans have changed the way they perceive sexual assault: From an early age, boys and girls have been coached about the laws of consent, “no” means “no,” and women are taught to avoid unsafe situations.
These stats do show a step in the right direction. Yet girls should remain armed with cell phones, rape whistles and pepper spray.