The Springfield Police Department’s 2015 third quarter public safety report shows a 68 percent increase in reported rapes compared to July through September of last year. Public information officer Lisa Cox describes what might be the cause.
“It is difficult to pinpoint, we would hope, we would really hope that the cause of the dramatic increase is just that more people are coming forward,” says Cox.
Some of these reports are happening on local college campuses, and Cox says public awareness about sexual assault at school may play a factor.
“So hopefully, these victims are just feeling more comfortable and proactive about the situation they are in, that they need to go forward and talk to school officials and police about what happened to them,” Cox says.
Missouri State University recently reported its sixth sexual assault case this semester. In a recent memo, President Clif Smart noted that awareness of the issue is leading to more reporting of it. He added that the incidents reported this semester involved people who know each other, and there have been no credible reports of stranger attacks.
Cox says that while some crime rates may fluctuate depending on the time of year, rape reporting tends not to be subject to that. However, students returning for classes may make an impact, particularly because of the demographic of many victims and suspects.
“We do see that in our rape statistics that they are happening in that demographic of 18, 19, 20, 21-year olds. People that often times know each other and have some form of relationship, and it goes farther than one of them had in mind, or sometimes alcohol is a factor. That happens quite often,” she said.
Reports of rape decreased this quarter by nearly 50 percent, however, when compared to the third quarter of 2013. That was the year that the legal definition of rape was changed with the purpose of creating more comprehensive reporting. This made subsequent statistics hard to compare against those prior to 2014.
“We can finally compare apples to apples again, as far as 2014 to 2015. Beyond that we don’t really want to compare numbers since there can be such a drastic change,” Cox says.
More on the Springfield Police Department's third quarterly public safety report can be found here.