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Reports of sexual assaults rise on Boston-area college campuses

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Reports of sexual assaults on Boston-area college campuses have risen sharply over the past several years, according to a Globe review of federal statistics, shedding light locally on what victims’ advocates and President Obama have called a national epidemic with devastating effects.

Across 22 of the largest campuses in and around Boston, reports of “forcible sex offenses” rose by nearly 40 percent between 2008 and 2012, according to the most recent data supplied by colleges as required under the Clery Act.

Campus safety experts say the rise in reporting of assaults suggests that many colleges – pushed by government agencies, victims, and new federal guidelines – are improving efforts to address the problem by expanding education and outreach and by more thoroughly reporting the widely underreported crime.

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