descriptions) of the target behavior…. The public health approach emphasizes victimization as a condition that endures over time and requires treatment to restore the victim. Consequently, there is less concern with identifying point-in-time events that may comprise the condition and legal definitions are of less concern than commonly understood definitions of the behavior.

In broad terms, the NCVS represents the criminal justice perspective, and the NISVS and other surveys described in this report represent the public health perspective.

Lynch expressed several specific expectations for the panel:

•   Take a fresh look at the problem, drawing from what the criminal justice and public health schools have done but not being held captive by these traditions. The principal goal of the panel is to consider a wide range of alternative self-report survey designs to measure the incidence and prevalence of the crimes of rape and sexual assault and to recommend an optimum design.

•   Recommend whether this optimum design can be incorporated into the ongoing NCVS program and, if so, how.

•   Finally, to work closely with Westat in field testing the redesign options.

Thus, Lynch said he hoped for considerable flexibility from the panel in looking for “best practices.” He asked the panel to take a fresh look at this problem, drawing from approaches that have been successful in both the criminal justice and public health approaches. He noted that he does not assume that the optimum design could be incorporated into the ongoing NCVS program.

The panel addressed its charge in two main phases, with the initial phase to gather relevant information. It completed a careful assessment of the design, implementation, and output from various administrative and survey data systems that have been used to produce estimates of rape and sexual assault in the United States. Outside investigators doing work in related areas were commissioned to prepare papers for a public workshop held in June 2012. (Agendas for the workshop and public meetings of the panel are presented in Appendix B.) The panel also consulted Surveying Victims: Options for Conducting the National Crime Victimization Survey (National Research Council, 2008) to enhance its understanding of issues and to identify any recommendations from that study that are relevant today for measuring rape and sexual assault. Beyond a review of available documentation, this phase included a field exercise in which several panel



The National Academies | 500 Fifth St. N.W. | Washington, D.C. 20001
Copyright © National Academy of Sciences. All rights reserved.
Terms of Use and Privacy Statement