Arizona Rape Prevention Education
To obtain a better understanding of sexual assault surveillance at the state level in the United States, we undertook a National Sexual Assault Surveillance Systems survey. People were contacted by telephone in all 50 states to determine who is monitoring sexual assault surveillance at the state level at which level of analysis. Sexual assault surveillance systems forms were requested from those states where the system is in place or development is far enough along that data sets exist in draft form. The results of the survey are presented in the following Tables 1 through 4 and the findings are discussed below each table.
Table 1. Types of organizations conducting sexual assault surveillance at the state level in the United States.
Table 1 summarizes the organization type responsible for sexual assault surveillance. Although the Uniform Crime Report (UCR) program is active to some extent in every state, Table 1 shows that 8% of the states only have the UCR program for sexual assault surveillance. Other criminal justice agencies account for 14% of state sexual assault surveillance. Social services also accounted for 14%. State health departments were found to be conducting sexual assault surveillance in 32% of the states. These generally represent administrators collecting data from programs funded through such avenues as VOCA or the Rape Prevention Education grant. State coalitions were the most likely (36% of states) to be collecting sexual assault surveillance data on a statewide basis. Arizona has UCR data and data collected through the Health Department by the Arizona Rape and Sexual Assault Surveillance Project. A state sexual assault coalition is underdevelopment in Arizona, but is not currently collecting data.
Table 2 summarizes the level of analysis undertaken. Data can be collected at the individual level, with data records representing individual clients, or at the organizational level, with service providers and/or police departments reporting aggregate data. Sixteen percent of states are collecting individual-level data while 84% of states are collecting organizational-level data. Individual-level data collection is more expensive than organizational-level data collection at the state level because more complex data collection and storage is involved. However, individual-level data collection allows one to answer important questions about risks and protective factors that organizational-level data does not (Koss 1993).
Confidentiality is an issue if personal identifiers are kept with the data or other data sets exist that could match characteristics of the crime with personal identifiers. Arizona is currently collecting data at the organizational level of analysis, requesting aggregate data primarily from programs funded through the Rape Prevention Education grant. Aggregate archival data collection is exempt from Human Subjects Review.
Table 3 summarizes the frequency of reporting. Data is centrally collected at varying intervals. Quarterly and monthly reporting are the most common. Ongoing data collection is generally only available in conjunction with individual-level data collection. The utility of collecting data more often varies with the meaningfulness of the data collected. While there may well be variations in sexual assault characteristics and service provision over the year, the type of data currently being collected in this state does not justify more than annual tabulation. More frequent data collection will be useful when the sexual assault surveillance system is providing data with at an individual level of analysis.
Table 4 below lists the data items being collected by state surveillance systems around the country. No one surveillance system collects all of these data items. Which data items appear on a particular form is influenced by the type of surveillance system in place and who is responsible for gathering the information. This list represents the universe of what is being collected rather than the ideal data set. Although this list appears long, there are some items conspicuously missing. For example, there are no items concerning sexually transmitted diseases, especially HIV and AIDS. Also, there is very little description of the medical treatment received. The items recommended for inclusion in Arizona’s sexual assault surveillance system will be a small subset of those presented here.