In a college town, students sometimes get a bit of a bad reputation. Older people may assume they have less regard for the law and that they tend to get into more trouble. The cliched college experience, after all, includes underage drinking, drug use and frequent social gatherings.

This is somewhat unfair. Just because those cliches exist by no means indicates that all college students have that experience. For instance, one study asked college students if they had consumed alcohol in the previous month, and about 60 percent of them said that they had. However, the study looked at students between the ages of 18 and 22. Two-fifths of those students are at least 21 years old and can legally drink. Only those between 18 and 20 would be breaking the law, so it stands to reason that far less than 60 percent participated in illegal activity.

That said, crime does happen on college campuses. Looking at the trends can show you what you should really expect.

Total crimes fell for years, before a recent increase

When you look back, you’ll see a consistent drop in total crimes on campus, after a small spike around 2006. The total amount then fell for almost a decade, dropping to nearly half of what it had been in 2001. It bottomed out around 2013.

However, reports then started to increase again slightly. For instance, reports came in for a total of 27,500 incidents back in 2015. The previous year, there had been 26,900 reports. That’s an increase of approximately 2 percent.

It’s perhaps easier to look at the amount of incidents for every 10,000 FTE students at school. FTE, in this case, stands for full-time-equivalent. In 2014, there were 18.0 crimes per 10,000 FTE students, and that went up to 18.5 in 2015.

This is important because it shows that crime is actually growing more common. Without looking at this, if there was a massive increase in college attendance, a “spike” in crime could be misleading. The rate at which crime happens could actually fall or stay the same, even as the total number of crimes increased, because there were so many more students on campus. The FTE numbers tell you that this was not the case.

Some crimes continue to fall

Some criminal activity does not follow this trend. For instance, burglary numbers have fallen since that same spike right around 2006, but they continued to fall through 2014 and 2015, even when total crimes rose again. That’s not to say it doesn’t happen. More than 10,000 incidents still got reported to police. But it is interesting to note that specific crimes have their own trends.

College students and their rights

When college students get accused of a crime, it can have a drastic impact on their future. They need to know what legal defense options they have.