McNair Scholars Research Journal


One in five women and one in sixteen men are sexually assaulted while attending college (Krebs et al., 2007; White House Task Force to Protect Students from Sexual Assault, 2014). The inconsistencies in the definition of “sexual consent” may determine which behaviors constitute sexual assault and rape and, in turn, affect victims’ rights as well as conviction and sentencing rates. Insufficient standard definitions of sexual consent or consensual sexual behaviors have resulted in many aggressors serving little to no time in jail (Kahan, 2010). Specifically defining consent and educating college students about its meaning could affect the prevalence of sexual assault. Previous studies focusing on sexual consent have stressed the importance of this, but research is limited. The purpose of this review is to investigate the effects of operationally defining and understanding consent and consensual sexual behaviors on the behaviors and attitudes of college students as a deterrent for sexual assault.