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Tuesday, May 10, 2016

Sexual Assault on US Campuses

More problems with the "the one in five female college students in the US have been sexually assaulted" statistic:

AAU Campus Sexual Assault Survey: Why such surveys don’t paint an accurate portrait of life on campus.

"The more wide-ranging AAU survey would seem to sweep away the doubt. But its authors also explicitly warn against making the kind of national claims suggested by this week’s headlines: “[M]any news stories are focused on figures like ‘1 in 5’ in reporting victimization,” they write, then advise that it is “oversimplistic, if not misleading” to conclude that any study, including their own, proves that 20 or 25 percent of female students are victims.

This week, I spoke to David Cantor, co-principal investigator of the AAU study. He explained that the 27 campuses he and his colleagues looked at are not nationally representative; the set of schools was relatively large, but it was not randomly selected from the full complement of American universities...

In the AAU survey, the women who said they experienced nonconsensual penetration but did not report it were asked why. The most common answer, chosen by 58.6 percent of aggregate respondents was, “I did not think it was serious enough to report.” At Yale, this answer was chosen by 65.4 percent of the respondents who said they had experienced forced penetration. What are we to make of respondents who attest that they’ve experienced such a vile assault yet don’t find it serious enough to report?...

If 1 in 4 women on their campuses can expect to be victimized each year, college presidents should reinstate the long-abandoned sexual segregation of dorms; there should be a strictly enforced ban on underage drinking; and a large and visible law enforcement presence should prowl campus as a deterrent to sexual predators. But no college president would suggest such things.

I suspect that’s in part because they recognize that there is a fundamental problem with sexual assault surveys. These surveys are trying to describe the most intimate activities of people by forcing them to answer binary questions about behavior that can be ambiguous, complicated, and confusing"

The latest big sexual assault survey is (like others) more hype than science

"The extraordinarily low response rate of students asked to participate in the AAU survey — 19.3 percent — virtually guaranteed a vast exaggeration of the number of campus sexual assaults.

Even the AAU acknowledged that the 150,000 students who responded to the electronic questionnaire were more likely to be victims of sexual assault than the 650,000 who ignored it because “non-victims may have been less likely to participate.”

Start with the fact that 60 percent of the 150,000 students who responded were female, even though half of all students at the surveyed schools were male. Then ask yourself whether you would be more likely to take the time to respond to such a survey if you were a sexual assault victim or if you were not...

2.2 percent of female respondents said they had reported to their schools that they had been penetrated without consent (including rape) since entering college. If extrapolated to the roughly 10 million female college student population nationwide, this would come to about 220,000 student reports to universities alleging forced sex over (to be conservative) five years, or about 44,000 reports per year. But this would be almost nine times the total number of students (just over 5,000) who reported sexual assaults of any kind to their universities in 2013...

The AAU classified as sexual assault or misconduct a far broader range of behaviors than does the criminal law or common understanding, in order to get big numbers such as the claim that 23.7 percent of female respondents told researchers they had experienced “sexual assault and sexual misconduct due to physical force, threats of physical force, or incapacitation.”

A more reliable estimate came in 2014 from the Justice Department’s annual National Crime Victimization Survey: No more than 1 in 160 (0.6 percent) of college women per year — or 1 in 32 (3 percent) over five years — are sexually assaulted.

But the AAU, mimicking other agenda-driven surveys, asked respondents questions such as whether they had experienced “forced kissing,” unwanted sexual “touching” (which could include attempted close dancing while fully clothed), “promised rewards” for sex, threats to “share damaging information about you” with friends, and the like. Then the AAU counted every “yes” answer as a sexual assault (or “misconduct”)...

Worse, the AAU also tallied as victims all respondents who said yes when asked whether anyone had sexually touched them “without your active, ongoing voluntary agreement” — for example, attempting more intimate contact “while you were still deciding.”"
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