Dr. Jim R. Vanderwoerd, professor of social work, has been working to fill a void in research about sexual assault on Christian campuses, gathering data on sexual assault, relationship violence and stalking through online surveys at eight Ontario Christian colleges and universities. Twenty percent of women respondents experienced sexual assault, while 25% experienced relationship violence or stalking. These numbers fall on the lower range of reported incidences on public campuses, where the results of various studies range up to 45%.
“Men on Christian campuses do not seem to pose as great a threat as those on public campuses.”
“We found, just like all the literature, a strong association between alcohol and victimization,” Vanderwoerd explains. “We did not find it with male association. Men on Christian campuses do not seem to pose as great a threat as those on public campuses.”
More research is needed, but Vanderwoerd thinks this result may be explained by the “moral community” theory. Criminologists have found that, while private religiosity doesn’t decrease the likelihood you’ll commit a crime, belonging to a moral community does.
Vanderwoerd has shared his findings with Canadian professionals working in student services at public and Christian institutions. He also recently presented his work in Hawaii at an international conference hosted by the Institute on Violence, Assault, and Trauma (IVAT).