ESTIMATING THE INCIDENCE
OF RAPE AND SEXUAL ASSAULT
Panel on Measuring Rape and Sexual Assault in
Bureau of Justice Statistics Household Surveys
Candace Kruttschnitt, William D. Kalsbeek, and Carol C. House, Editors
Committee on National Statistics
Division of Behavioral and Social Sciences and Education
NATIONAL RESEARCH COUNCIL
OF THE NATIONAL ACADEMIES
THE NATIONAL ACADEMIES PRESS
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NOTICE: The project that is the subject of this report was approved by the Governing Board of the National Research Council, whose members are drawn from the councils of the National Academy of Sciences, the National Academy of Engineering, and the Institute of Medicine. The members of the committee responsible for the report were chosen for their special competences and with regard for appropriate balance.
This study was supported by the Bureau of Justice Statistics, U.S. Department of Justice, via grant number SES-1024012 between the National Academy of Sciences and the National Science Foundation. Support for the work of the Committee on National Statistics is provided by a consortium of federal agencies through a grant from the National Science Foundation (grant number SES-1024012). Any opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this publication are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the organizations or agencies that provided support for the project.
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Suggested citation: National Research Council. (2014). Estimating the Incidence of Rape and Sexual Assault. Panel on Measuring Rape and Sexual Assault in Bureau of Justice Statistics Household Surveys, C. Kruttschnitt, W.D. Kalsbeek, and C.C. House, Editors. Committee on National Statistics, Division of Behavioral and Social Sciences and Education. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press.
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PANEL ON MEASURING RAPE AND SEXUAL ASSAULT IN
BUREAU OF JUSTICE STATISTICS HOUSEHOLD SURVEYS
CANDACE KRUTTSCHNITT (Cochair), Department of Sociology, University of Toronto
WILLIAM D. KALSBEEK (Cochair), Department of Biostatistics, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
PAUL P. BIEMER, RTI International and the Odum Institute, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
JOHN BOYLE, ICF International, Rockville, MD
BONNIE S. FISHER, School of Criminal Justice, University of Cincinnati
KAREN HEIMER, Department of Sociology, University of Iowa
LINDA LEDRAY, SANE-SART Resource Service, Minneapolis, MN
COLIN LOFTIN, School of Criminal Justice, University at Albany, State University of New York
RUTH D. PETERSON, Department of Sociology (emerita) and Criminal Justice Research Center, Ohio State University
NORA CATE SCHAEFFER, Department of Sociology, University of Wisconsin—Madison
TOM W. SMITH, NORC at the University of Chicago
BRUCE D. SPENCER, Department of Statistics and Institute for Policy Research, Northwestern University
CAROL C. HOUSE, Study Director
NANCY KIRKENDALL, Senior Program Officer
DANIEL L. CORK, Senior Program Officer
ESHA SINHA, Associate Program Officer
AGNES GASKIN, Administrative Assistant
COMMITTEE ON NATIONAL STATISTICS
LAWRENCE D. BROWN (Chair), Department of Statistics, The Wharton School, University of Pennsylvania
JOHN M. ABOWD, School of Industrial and Labor Relations, Cornell University
DAVID CARD, Department of Economics, University of California, Berkeley
ALICIA CARRIQUIRY, Department of Statistics, Iowa State University
CONSTANTINE GATSONIS, Center for Statistical Sciences, Brown University
JAMES S. HOUSE, Survey Research Center, Institute for Social Research, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor
MICHAEL HOUT, Department of Sociology, New York University
SALLIE ANN KELLER, Social and Decision Analytics Lab, Virginia Bioinformatics Institute at Virginia Tech, Arlington, VA
LISA LYNCH, The Heller School for Social Policy and Management, Brandeis University
SALLY C. MORTON, Department of Biostatistics, Graduate School of Public Health, University of Pittsburgh
RUTH D. PETERSON, Criminal Justice Research Center, Ohio State University
EDWARD H. SHORTLIFFE, Department of Biomedical Informatics, Columbia University and Arizona State University
HAL S. STERN, Donald Bren School of Information and Computer Sciences, University of California, Irvine
JOHN R. THOMPSON, NORC at the University of Chicago*
ROGER TOURANGEAU, Westat, Inc., Rockville, MD
CONSTANCE F. CITRO, Director
JACQUELINE R. SOVDE, Program Associate
*Resigned August 2013.
The Panel on Measuring Rape and Sexual Assault in Bureau of Justice Statistics Household Surveys was convened in March 2011 by the Committee on National Statistics (CNSTAT), with input from the Committee on Law and Justice, under the auspices of the Division of Behavioral and Social Sciences and Education of the National Research Council (NRC). The study sponsor, the Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS) of the U.S. Department of Justice, charged the panel to recommend the best methods for obtaining national statistics on rape and sexual assault on an ongoing basis for the noninstitutionalized population of the United States in conjunction with the BJS household surveys.
The panel held five in-person meetings to organize its work, gather information, prepare recommendations, and finalize its report. To achieve these goals, the panel relied on a wide range of individuals both within and outside of the NRC and BJS. First, we must acknowledge the outstanding contributions of our fellow panel members who brought expertise in survey design, including questionnaire design and interview mode, the National Crime Victimization Survey, and the broader areas of rape and sexual assault and related policies and programs. The panel offers special thanks to Bonnie Fisher and Karen Heimer for their work on Appendix D, and to William Kalsbeek for his work on Appendix E. See Appendix F for biographical sketches of the panel members and project staff. As part of our task, the panel was asked to communicate with the agency contracted by BJS—Westat—to pilot two survey designs that would compare alternative measures of rape and sexual assault. We are grateful to both then BJS director, James Lynch, and BJS senior statistical advisor, Allen Beck, for
facilitating our communications with Westat and for the openness and camaraderie shown to us by the director of the Westat project, David Cantor.
The panel convened two workshops (December 2011 and June 2012) to gather information from experts on police reports and self-reports of rape and sexual assaults, from consumers of these statistics, and from experts on statistical methods for assessing bias in the estimates of rates of sensitive and rare events. We are indebted to the participants of these two workshops who shared their invaluable knowledge with the panel. (See Appendix B for the workshop agendas and participants.) Some of the individuals who presented at these workshops also prepared written papers, which expanded on the topics they discussed at the workshops. Their papers were very valuable to the panel as we deliberated and prepared our recommendations, and these individuals deserve additional thanks: Ronet Bachman; Jim Chromy and David Wilson; Janet Lauritsen; Ken Rasinski; and Carol Tracy, Jennifer Long, Terry Fromson, and Charlene Whitman.
This report was reviewed in draft form by individuals chosen for their diverse perspectives and technical expertise, in accordance with procedures approved by the NRC Report Review Committee. The purpose of this independent review is to provide candid and critical comments that will assist the institution in making its published report as sound as possible and to ensure that the report meets institutional standards for objectivity, evidence, and responsiveness to the study charge. The review comments and draft manuscript remain confidential to protect the integrity of the deliberative process.
We wish to thank the following individuals for their review of this report: Lynn A. Addington, Department of Justice, Law and Society, American University; Kathleen M. Brown, School of Nursing, University of Pennsylvania; Dean G. Kilpatrick, National Crime Victims Research and Treatment Center, Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, Medical University of South Carolina; Virginia M. Lesser, Survey Research Center, Department of Statistics, Oregon State University; Nancy A. Mathiowetz, Department of Sociology, University of Wisconsin—Milwaukee; Elizabeth Stasny, Department of Statistics, Ohio State University; Patricia Tjaden, Tjaden Research Corporation, Denver, Colorado; Roger Tourangeau, Executive Office, Westat, Rockville, Maryland; and Min Xie, School of Criminology and Criminal Justice, Arizona State University.
Although the reviewers listed above have provided many constructive comments and suggestions, they were not asked to endorse the conclusions or recommendations nor did they see the final draft of the report before its release. The review of this report was overseen by Richard A. Kulka, independent consultant, Raleigh, North Carolina, and Linda McCauley, Nell Hodgson Woodruff School of Nursing, Emory University. Appointed by the NRC’s Report Review Committee, they were responsible for mak-
ing certain that an independent examination of this report was carried out in accordance with institutional procedures and that all review comments were carefully considered. Responsibility for the final content of this report rests entirely with the authoring panel and the institution. However, the panel gratefully acknowledges that its report is more complete and its points made more clearly because of questions asked and suggestions made by the individuals who participated in this review.
The panel also recognizes that its work was greatly facilitated by many NRC staff members. Connie Citro, director of CNSTAT, attended all of our meetings and workshops and provided invaluable expertise throughout the duration of our deliberations. Daniel Cork, senior program officer with CNSTAT, also provided us with critical information that allowed us to link our work with the broader assessment of BJS that was conducted in 2008 and 2009. Esha Sinha, associate program officer, prepared early drafts of several sections of the report. Nancy Kirkendall, senior program officer with CNSTAT, assisted the panel in arranging for several commissioned papers.
The panel’s study director, Carol House, was invaluable to the panel. From the outset, she was a critical conduit to Westat and BJS and outside reports and information essential to the panel’s deliberations. In addition to keeping the panel’s work on track, Carol’s own professional background in survey statistics enabled her to capably serve as a bridge to connect the various expertise among the panel members.
The panel also wants to thank the three other members of the CNSTAT staff who worked with the panel to facilitate its meetings and workshops: Agnes Gaskin, Alicia Jaramillo-Underwood, and Anthony Mann.
Finally we recognize the many federal agencies that support CNSTAT directly and through a grant from the National Science Foundation. Without their support and commitment to improving the national statistical system, the panel work that is the basis of this report would not have been possible.
Candace Kruttschnitt and William D. Kalsbeek, Cochairs
Panel on Measuring Rape and Sexual Assault in
Bureau of Justice Statistics Household Surveys
2 LEGAL DEFINITIONS AND CONTEXT
3 DATA FROM LAW ENFORCEMENT AGENCIES
4 NATIONAL CRIME VICTIMIZATION SURVEY
Target Population and Sample Design
Data Collection and Survey Mode
5 SELECTED OTHER SURVEYS ON RAPE AND SEXUAL ASSAULT
National Women’s Study (1989-1991)
National Violence Against Women Study (1995-1996)
National College Women Sexual Victimization Study (1997)
National Intimate Partner and Sexual Violence Survey (2010)
6 COMPARISON OF RAPE AND SEXUAL ASSAULT ACROSS DATA SOURCES
Target Population, Sampling Frames, and Sample Size
Data Collection Mode and Response Rates
Measures of Rape and Sexual Assault
7 POTENTIAL SOURCES OF ERROR IN THE NCVS: SAMPLING, FRAME, AND PROCESSING
8 POTENTIAL SOURCES OF ERROR: NONRESPONSE, SPECIFICATION, AND MEASUREMENT
9 SYNOPSIS OF POTENTIAL ERRORS IN THE NATIONAL CRIME VICTIMIZATION SURVEY
Potential Sources of Error: Summary
Obstacles to High-Quality Estimates
10 NEW DIRECTIONS FOR MEASURING RAPE AND SEXUAL ASSAULT
A New Survey to Measure Rape and Sexual Assault
Specialized Training and Monitoring
B Workshop and Public Meetings: Agendas and Participants
C Links to Questionnaires of the National Crime Victimization Survey
D Selected Surveys Measuring Rape: An Overview
E Statistical Rationale Behind Some Initial Findings on the Relative Statistical Plausibility of a Multiple-Frame Approach to Estimating the Victimization Rate of Rape and Sexual Assault