NEW YORK Reports of forcible sex crimes at colleges and universities increased by over 50 percent to 2011 from 2001, even as on-campus crime has declined for every other category, according to a federal report released on Tuesday.
The Education Department report found that 3,300 sex crimes including rape and forced fondling were reported in 2011, up from 2,200 a decade earlier.
During the same time, overall on-campus crime fell by roughly 27 percent, with every other category - including burglaries, aggravated assaults and auto thefts - seeing decreases.
The report did not detail what reasons might explain the trend but administrators and student advocates at colleges and universities across the nation in recent years have been campaigning to raise awareness about sex crimes, in some cases encouraging victims to file criminal complaints rather than allowing their attackers to go unpunished.
The White House in April declared an "epidemic" of sex assaults on campus, and 55 U.S. colleges and universities are facing lawsuits that contend their policies aimed at preventing such attacks may be inadequate and a violation of Title IX, a 1972 U.S. law that prohibits gender discrimination at schools that receive federal funds.
Tuesday's report also found that crime had declined at elementary and high schools across the country over the past two decades.
The victimization rate of students aged 12- to 18-years-old was three times lower in 2012 than it had been two decades earlier, with 52 of every 1,000 students the victim of a crime, down from 181 in 1992.
In 2012, nearly 1.4 million students 12 to 18 were victimized while at school, with over half of those crimes being violent in nature. The report said that urban and suburban students experienced higher rates of violence than their rural peers.
It added that roughly a quarter of middle and high school-aged students reported being bullied at school and nine percent said they had experienced cyber-bullying, in 2011. While males were more likely to be victims of violence at school, females were three times more likely to experience cyber-bullying.
(Reporting by Curtis Skinner; Editing by Scott Malone, Bernard Orr)