Obama Administration Targets Sexual Abuse at Colleges

President Barack Obama 
Mark Wilson/Getty Images
President Barack Obama 
Mark Wilson/Getty Images

President Barack Obama has set his sights on finding a solution to rampant sexual assault, particularly on college campuses, the Associated Press reports. It's an issue that rarely gets attention from the White House despite its broad reach into so many Americans' lives.


Obama is expected to sign a presidential memorandum on Wednesday to create a task force to identify ways to protect students from sexual assault. A new White House report, "Rape and Sexual Assault: A Renewed Call to Action," identifies college women as most likely to be raped or assaulted. According to the report's findings, 1 in 5 women have been assaulted while in college—due in part to the drinking and drug use that can leave victims unable to function normally—but only 12 percent of student victims report their attack.

The report was assembled by the White House Council on Women and Girls, chaired by Senior Adviser Valerie Jarrett, who stated that men must also be involved in solving the proliferating crisis. "The president is committed to solving this problem, not just as president of the United States but as a father of two girls [who will soon be heading to college]," Jarrett said in an interview, according to the AP.

Obama appears to be committed to seeing results as soon as possible. He is giving the task force 90 days to feed recommendations to colleges on how to prevent sexual assault and respond to incidents appropriately, how to increase public awareness of school assault records and how to enhance coordination among federal agencies so that schools are held accountable if they do not address the problem effectively, the AP states.

The report also called on law enforcement to be more aggressive in pursuing arrests, prosecutions and convictions. It identified police bias and lack of adequate training as reasons for current low arrest rates.

Obama will be convening with Attorney General Eric Holder, Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel, Education Secretary Arnie Duncan and Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sibelius on Wednesday to discuss the issue further.

Read more at the Associated Press.