How Common is Sexual Assault in the United States? The Answer Depends On Who You Ask [Center for Data Innovation]


By Joshua New

A recent report from the Government Accountability Office (GAO) found that the Departments of Health and Human Services (HHS), Defense, Education and Justice oversee at least 10 different efforts to collect data about sexual violence—producing widely varying statistics that, on the surface, appear to measure the same thing. As a result, policymakers and the public simply do not have reliable, easy-to-understand data about sexual assault, which can have serious consequences for the effectiveness and accountability of the criminal justice system and hinder efforts to combat sexual assault. Federal agencies and Congress should take action to ensure that the public and policymakers alike can better understand this data and put it to good use in the fight against sexual assault.

After reviewing 10 different data collection efforts, GAO found that federal agencies use 23 different terms to describe an incident of sexual violence. These terms often overlap and different initiatives sometimes apply or define these terms differently. For example, the Department of Education collects data about crime on college campuses and defines certain incidents of sexual violence as “rape,” whereas HHS defines those same incidents as either “rape,” “sexual coercion,” or “assault-sexual.” Similarly, the Department of Education classifies nonpenetrative contact as “fondling,” whereas HHS describes it either as “assault-sexual” or “unwanted sexual contact.” Furthermore, the Department of Education does not collect any statistics about certain types of sexual assault, such as when a victim was made to penetrate someone else. These types of conflicting and overlapping definitions make it difficult to answer relatively simple questions, such as “how many sexual assaults occur on college campuses?”


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For #MeToo movement, a mixed reception in nations outside US [ABC News]


In this Oct. 29, 2017 file photo, demonstrators hold placards reading

Thanks to the vast reach of social media and the prevalence of sexual misconduct in virtually every society, the #MeToo movement has proven itself a genuinely global phenomenon. Yet its impact varies widely from country to country, from potentially momentous to inconsequential.

No other nation has experienced anything close to the developments in the United States, the movement’s birthplace, where scores of prominent men — among them politicians, media stars and movie moguls — have lost jobs and reputations after facing sexual misconduct allegations.

As the global women’s movement prepares for International Women’s Day on Thursday, it’s clear the record elsewhere is mixed.


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Framing the sex abuse crisis in light of ecclesiology and church reform by Massimo Faggioli


Every major crisis in church history has redefined some aspects of the relationship between the center and the periphery

It is still too soon to know how Pope Francis will be remembered for his handling of the Catholic Church’s crisis of clergy sex abuse of minors. His pontificate is currently embroiled in what continues to be the phenomenon’s most difficult moment.

The pope’s legacy on this issue will not be judged only by the credibility of his personal intentions, but even more by his and the church’s ability to deal with the most serious calamity in the history of contemporary Catholicism.

Some things depend on him, other do not. For instance, Francis renewed the mandate of the Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors on Feb. 17 by re-confirming half of its original members and appointing several new people to this advisory body. But the commission is only one of many initiatives that needs to be implemented – and it needs to be effective.

The pope was asked about the abuse scandal last month during a meeting with a group of Jesuits in Peru. In the conversation, translated and published by La Civiltà Cattolica, he called the abuse scandal “a great humiliation” for the Catholic Church.


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What is clergy sexual abuse and how does it happen? by Stephanie Dickrell


The recent arrest of the Rev. Anthony Oelrich, a Catholic priest who has worked in the Diocese of St. Cloud since 1992, has the community asking a lot of questions.

What happened? How did it happen? Who’s at risk?

Oelrich is facing a charge of third-degree criminal sexual conduct after he was accused of engaging in a sexual relationship with an adult to whom he was a spiritual counselor.

David Pooler, associate dean for academic affairs at the Diana R. Garland School of Social Work at Baylor University in Texas has studied the impact of clergy sexual abuse.

“There are people who really do look to pastors,” he said. “A lot of research around people with mental health problems says a local congregation, local pastor is the first stop for people with mental health problems, not a social worker or psychologist. Enormous trust is given to pastors.”

People often assume that if an incident involves two adults and they consented, it’s consensual.

“We’re at a place in the church and society where we know sexual abuse of children is wrong,” he said. “What the church and society haven’t completely figured out yet is adults.”

A Minnesota law that prohibits intimate relationships between therapists and counselors and their patients also specifically prohibits such relationships between members of the clergy and those they counsel.


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Child Sexual Abuse in Protestant Christian Congregations: A Descriptive Analysis of Offense and Offender Characteristics by Denney, A.S.; Kerley, K.R.; Gross, N.G.


Abstract: Utilizing data from 326 cases of alleged child sexual abuse that occurred at or through activities provided by Protestant Christian congregations, this study examines demographic and contextual characteristics of alleged child sexual abuse that took place within the most prevalent religious environment in the United States. Research questions are addressed in this study. First, what type of child sexual abuse most commonly occurs at or through activities provided by Protestant Christian congregations? Second, where do such offenses physically take place? Third, who are the offenders and what role(s) do they assume in the congregations? We find that the overwhelming majority of offenses were contact offenses that occurred on church premises or at the offender’s home, and that most offenders were white male pastors or youth ministers who were approximately 40 years in age. We conclude with policy implications and recommendations for future research


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Worldwide, around 15 million adolescent girls aged 15 to 19 have experienced forced sex in their lifetime. Boys are also at risk, although a global estimate is unavailable [UNICEF]


Sexual violence is one of the most unsettling of children’s rights violations. As such, it is the subject of dedicated international legal instruments aimed at protecting children against its multiple forms. Acts of sexual violence, which often occur together and with other forms of violence, can range from direct physical contact to unwanted exposure to sexual language and images. ‘Sexual violence’ is often used as an umbrella term to cover all types of sexual victimization.[1] Although children of every age are susceptible, adolescence is a period of pronounced vulnerability, especially for girls.

[1] “Sexual violence against children encompasses both sexual exploitation and sexual abuse of children and can be used as an umbrella term to refer jointly to these phenomena, both with regard to acts of commission and omission and associated to physical and psychological violence.” Interagency Working Group on Sexual Exploitation of Children, Terminology Guidelines for the Protection of Children from Sexual Exploitation and Sexual Abuse, ECPAT International and ECPAT Luxembourg, Rachathewi, Bangkok, June 2016, p. 16, open PDF from .


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The impacts of child sexual abuse: A rapid evidence assessment


The aim of the Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse (IICSA or ‘the Inquiry’) is to investigate whether public bodies and other non-state institutions have taken seriously their responsibility to protect children from sexual abuse in England and Wales, and to make meaningful recommendations for change, to help ensure that children now and in the future are better protected from sexual abuse. Child sexual abuse (CSA) involves forcing or enticing a child or young person under the age of 18 to take part in sexual activities. It includes contact and non-contact abuse, child sexual exploitation (CSE) and grooming a child in preparation for abuse.

As part of its work, the Inquiry is seeking to examine the impacts of child sexual abuse on the lives of victims and survivors and their families, as well as the impacts on wider society. These questions are of cross-cutting relevance to the work of the Inquiry. They have particular salience for its ‘Accountability and Reparations’ investigation, which is exploring the extent to which existing support services and legal processes effectively deliver accountability and reparation to victims and survivors.


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Evaluation of a Database for Tracking Cases of Child Sexual Abuse [Taylor & Francis Online]


Abstract

Administrative databases are used by criminal justice professionals to guide specialist responses to crimes of child sexual abuse. Assumptions might be made that the database will be accurate, contemporaneous, complete, and meaningful; however, this may not be the case. The main aim of the current study was to critically evaluate a database used by practitioners for tracking cases of child sexual abuse, in order to identify evidence that may justify investment in improved data gathering and centralised information management systems. Three data quality dimensions were examined: (1) completeness, measured as data that were not missing and were of adequate breadth and depth, (2) accuracy, namely that the data are correct, and (3) believability, where the data may be regarded as credible or plausible. Results indicated that data quality was of concern for all three dimensions, with missing and inaccurate data found across a range of variables, and issues with believability found on two variables. The implications of these results for development of new data documentation methods are discussed.


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Understanding Sexually Abusive Clergy as a Unique Offender Subgroup: Risk-based Comparisons Across the Course of Offending


The current study compares offending trends of sexually abusive clergy (n = 1,428) to general sex offenders (n = 2,842) on risk measure items coded across the course of offending. Results suggest significant differences on most risk-relevant variables. Clergy were particularly more likely to have male victims, V = .62, 95% CI [.58, .65], and less likely to be married, V = .59, 95% CI [.56, .63], or use force, V = .76, 95% CI [.73, .79]. The magnitude of differences remained when matched on offense factors (e.g., male child acquaintance victims). Findings suggest sexually abusive clergy are a unique subgroup differing from general sex offenders on factors associated with recidivism.


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