Example Of Sexual Assault/Victimization Reporting Rates And Effects Among College Students In The United States Research Proposal

Type of paper: Research Proposal

Topic: Crime, Sexual Abuse, Victimology, Education, Criminal Justice, Violence, Assault, Law

Pages: 9

Words: 2475

Published: 2020/10/06

Theoretical Framework

The social learning theory and the control balance theory offer an important theoretical foundation for this study. According to the former, individuals learn by observing the behaviour of other people within their social context, resulting in the intergenerational transmission of aggression. Sexual aggression is not inevitable, but it is socialized and shaped by the perceived or actual consequences, which means that sexual aggression is likely to continue if it is reinforced by rewarding consequences. Effectively, if sexual offences are not reported, then the offenders’ estimation of the risk of negative consequences for their actions is reduced, which in turn encourages them to offend. Specifically, violence against women and other vulnerable members of society is modelled at the societal and individual levels, with learners forming perceptions and expectations (social information processing) through the experiences of different socializing agents. Sexual aggression yields benefits (e.g. relieving tension) and with a diminished rate of punishment, possible offenders over-estimate the benefits leading to actual (re)offending.
On the other hand, the control balance theory of deviance emphasizes the factors that control or restrain individuals’ behaviour. It considers individuals as agents of control as against subjects of their social environment. Some individuals suffer from control deficits while others have a surplus of control. All individuals have some measure of control that they exert or are subject to. The balance between the amount of control exercised by one and the control that they are under shapes the behaviour of the individuals. Control balance often flows from and leads to conformity, while control imbalance is associated with deviance. Deviancy (rape/sexual assault) is likely to occur in situations where individuals are more controlling than controlled or controlled than controlling. Effectively, it is the balance of control/power (control ratio) between the victim and the perpetrator that determines the probability of the assault occurring. Tittle’s theory is more subtle, not least because it argues that control balance shapes the motivation, opportunity, constraint and provocation, which in turn opens up a role for normative and explanatory theories in criminology. The proposed study conceives the lack of reporting or low rate of rate of rape/sexual assault detection as a source power of the perpetrators, which in turn lead to offending.

Research Questions

Hypothesis 1
H1: Low rates of reporting of rape/sexual assault result in a higher risk of rape/sexual assault among college students in the United States
H0: Low rates of reporting of rape/sexual assault do not result in a higher risk of rape/sexual assault among college students in the United States

Hypothesis 2

H1: The rate of reporting of rape/sexual assault is lower than non-intimate crimes among college students in the United States
H0: The rate of reporting of rape/sexual assault is not lower than non-intimate crimes among college students in the United States

Dependent & Independent Variables

Annotated Bibliography
Braithewaite, J. (1997). Charles Tittle's Control Balance and Criminological Theory. Theoretical Criminology vol. 1 no. 1, 77-97.
While this source is slightly dated, it is an extremely important paper on Tittle’s control balance theory. It provides a great background to the control balance theory, its relevance to theory and research, as well as past applications to empirical work. The paper argues that control balance theory subtly suggests that the control rations shape the motivation, provocation, constraint and opportunity for deviant behaviour, which creates a role for more theories on understanding criminal behaviour. The source is reliable in part because it is published in a reputable academic journal, but also because of the author’s qualifications and experience. Braithwaite is a professor at the Australian National University, widely published author, researcher and founder of the Regulatory Institutions Network.
Burchill, J. W. (2011). Invasive searches: penile washings, bodily examinations, and other investigative considerations for sex-related offences. Police Practice & Research, 12(1), 35-49. doi:10.1080/15614261003589839.
Burchill (2011) presents yet another dimension of sexual offences that impede reporting, forensic investigation and sustaining the evidence in court. The invasive forensic investigation of (saliva, foreign materials, blood, debris, hair, saliva and other materials found on genitals after sexual intercourse) serve to provide critical evidence. However, given the invasiveness require to obtain them, stringent laws regulate the ability of law enforcement agencies to access to use it in court. This paper includes a detailed literature review of common law on the use of penile swabs in forensic investigations across Europe, the United States and Canada. This is important, not least because sexual offences involve few witnesses, and thus the ease of evidence gathering and admissibility of the same in court is important to law enforcement.
Cuevas, C. A., & Sabina, C. (2010). Final Report: Sexual Assault Among Latinas Study. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Justice.
This report shows that the vast majority of sexual assaults against women and girls go unreported. It estimates that just 36%, 34% and 26% of rapes, attempted rapes, and sexual assaults are reported to the law enforcement agencies. The reasons for the failure to report are different and varied. They include guilt or self-blame embarrassment, shame and the desire to keep assaults private. Others include fear of being blamed for the attack and lack of trust in the law enforcement agencies. This study established that victims did not commonly report offences to the criminal justice system, and instead sought help from informal support (including friends and family). About a third of the victims did not report incidences of assault or rape to anyone. The findings are important for the proposed study, not only because they point to a high rate of non-reporting of rape and sexual assault, but also the reasons. Further, the results provide a preliminary support for the need for a study such as the one proposed. The report is credible, peer-reviewed, and the authors are well-experienced researchers and academics.
Felson, R. B., & Lane, K. J. (2009). Social learning, sexual and physical abuse, and adult crime. Aggressive Behavior, 35(6), 489-501. doi:10.1002/ab.20322.
Socialization of deviant behaviour (crime) among children may have the consequence of transferring the behaviour to future generations. This study examined the relationship between childhood sexual and physical abuse and the nature of crimes committed by male adults. Using the discriminant prediction method to establish the relationship between the independent and dependent variables, the researchers drew data from the Survey of Inmates in States & Federal Correctional Facilities database, which revealed that offenders modelled specific offences that they had been exposed to in childhood. Offenders that had been sexually abused were most likely to engage in similar crimes (and most likely against children), in the same way that adults that had been physically abused were just as likely to commit violent offences. In addition, the results showed that sexual and physical violence offenders often specialized in the commission of the same crimes. This study results give weight to the social learning theory, which also forms the theoretical foundation of the proposed study. It also offers important empirical and theoretical material that is helpful to understanding the proposed research study. Felson and Lane are widely published authors, researchers and lecturers at the Pennsylavania State University’s Department of Crime, Law and Justice and Sociology.
Fisher, B. S. (2004). easuring Rape Against Women: The significance of Survey Questions. Washington, DC: National Institute of Justice.
Fisher explores the technical issues involved in the measurement of rape/sexual assault, which is especially relevant for the proposed study will also try to measure the rates and nature of offences. This paper asserts that other than the definitional differences of key concepts, the reliance on self-reporting by the subjects raises difficulties in verifying information volunteered. Further, factors such as drug use and alcohol affect the subjects’ judgment, besides the fact that the individuals’ cultural and other factors may colour their perception of sexual assault or rape, as well as their willingness to report them (even in a study). With a full understanding of the issues identified in this study, the proposed study will take deliberate measures to mitigate against the effects of the methodological deficiencies inherent in studies of this nature.
Fisher, B., Cullen, T. F., & Turner, M. (2000). Sexual Victimization of College Women. Washington, DC: National Institute of Justice.
This is a research report on the sexual victimization of college-going women in the United States, compiled on behalf of the US Department of Justice. It argues that young women in colleges face a heightened risk of rape/sexual assault compared to the general population, with up to 350 rapes a year per 10,000 population of female students. Further, this report finds that women may not categorize sexual victimization as a crime for multiple reasons, which among other factors, contributes to the perpetration of the crimes and low rates of reporting. Even most importantly, this report includes parallel findings from surveys done by the National Institute of Justice and the Bureau of Justice Statistics, which is highly insightful given the methodological differences and samples used. In addition, the proposed study benefits from the definitions of rape/sexual assault included in this report, design of the tools and variables etc., from the wealth of studies included. The authors are leading academics and researchers. Fisher and Cullen are Fellows in the Centre for Criminal Justice Research and professors at the University of Cincinnati’s Division of Criminal Justice and Research, while Turner is an associate professor at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte.
Rennison, C. M. (2002). Rape and Sexual Assault: Reporting to Police and Medical Attention, 1992-2000. Washington, DC: US Department of Justice .
This report provides information on the effects of sexual assault and rape for female victims, including the rates of completed and attempted rape, as well as incidents reported to the law enforcement agencies between 1992 and 2000. Victims injured and treated due to sexual assaults, or rape are also provided. The report indicates that the victims were the most likely to report sexual offences, with 45% of female victims that are injured reporting the assaults, but 22% of injured victims sought medical attention but did not report the incidents to the police. Given the youthfulness and sexual inexperience of college students, it is likely that their ability to cope with sexual assault and rape is worse than the general population, and thus the rates of victims seeking medical attention or even reporting the offences are likely to be low. Effectively, this study sets a perfect foundation for the proposed study to not only determine the current rates of reporting, but perhaps most importantly, the possibility of the risk of attack being influenced by the perception of detection/reporting risk.
Taylor, S. C., & Gassner, L. (2010). Stemming the flow: challenges for policing adult sexual assault with regard to attrition rates and under-reporting of sexual offences. Police Practice & Research, 11(3), 240-255. doi:10.1080/15614260902830153.
The police play a central a central symbolic, cultural and professional role in the detection/prosecution of sexual offences, which means they are the gatekeepers of the victims' access to the criminal justice system. However, the very intimate nature of sexual offences means that evidence is difficult to gather, witnesses are unlikely to exist, and victims struggle with multiple layers of trauma that inhibits reporting rates. This paper argues that sexual offences are hugely under-reported to law enforcement agencies, besides the existence of a high attrition rate of reported incidents from the investigation process. It includes an insightful exploration of barriers and predictors of reporting/sexual abuse, and asserts that further collaboration academics and law enforcement agencies is critical to overcoming the difficulties. This article would be helpful providing a helpful background to the proposed research, including the design of research instruments. Other than being published in a reputable academic journal, the article is reliable because the authors are experienced academics (Edith Cowan University) and practitioners in the fields of psychology and criminology.
Truman, J., Langton, L., & Planty, M. (2013). Criminal Victimization, 2012. Washington, DC: US Department of Justice.
This provides updated statistics on criminal victimization (including rape/sexual assault) compiled for, and published by the US Department of Justice. This is essentially an updated version of Rennison (2002), this report allows for the comparison over the two periods in order to establish the extent of the problem and even efficacy of policies implemented (if any) to combat the problem. The statistics show that the population aged below 30 years are worst at risk of rape/sexual assault, which given the finding by Fisher, Cullen, & Turner (2000) that college students are more affected, it is clear that the proposed study is highly pertinent. The report also highlights a worryingly large proportion of victimization incidents that remained unreported to the police, which are consistently more than incidences that have been reported over the period.
Wilson, E. (2012). School-based Research: A Guide for Education Students. London: SAGE Publications Ltd.
This book offers a wealth of information and reflections on multiple aspects of school-based research, practical difficulties and ways to overcome them. It includes research designs/methods, research design processes, sampling and data collection, analysis and report compilation. It effectively provides information on the whole research cycle, which has proven critical to the conception and design of the proposed study. While it is specifically meant for teachers, this book is an insightful read, which provides great systematic guidelines for research and the learning needs of new researchers. Dr. Elaine Wilson is a lecturer at the University of Cambridge.
Woods, L. &. (2008). Examining the relationship between sexual offenders and their victims: Interpersonal differences between stranger and non-stranger sexual offences. Journal Of Sexual Aggression, 14(1), 61-75. doi:10.1080/13552600802056640.
This study offers an interesting application of power balance theory, and its influence on risk of rape/assault as well as reporting of the offences. The study sought to establish the behavioural differences in rape/sexual assault offences in relation to the relationship between the victims and the perpetrators. These differences (non-stranger and stranger) were analysed in the context of multiple interpersonal interactions themes i.e. submission, dominance, cooperation and hostility. The researchers analysed information on 100 sexual offences (50 non-stranger and 50 stranger), with results showing that offenders who were known to the victims were likely to be non-violent, compliance-gaining predators and personal compared to strangers. Effectively, victims were more inclined to categorize offences by strangers as rape/sexual assault and thus more likely to report them, compared to those committed by non-strangers.

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