Sexual Violence Study Draws Interest
Responding to Indiana’s alarmingly high rates of sexual violence, the Center for Evaluation and Education Policy at Indiana University recent released a study, “Sexual Violence Prevention in Indiana: Toward Safer, Healthier Communities.” Co-written by IU School of Education researchers Jonathan A. Plucker and Katie Cierniak and Kinsey Institute director Julia R. Heiman, the report emphasizes the role of prevention over the criminal justice strategies typically employed by Indiana policymakers.
The CEEP report has sparked discussion among state health officials and legislators, due in part to the extensive media attention in Indiana and nationwide following study’s release in early April.
(Read the Herald-Times editorial by Mike Leonard.)
"Prevention is so crucial and underappreciated nationwide as a tool to reduce rape and sexual abuse,” Dr. Heiman said in an interview with Indiana University Home Pages.
Now the research team is working to identify new solutions for sexual violence prevention in Indiana, which ranks second in the nation for forced sexual intercourse among high school women, according to a national study.
Augmenting the educational policy expertise, Dr. Heiman is able to incorporate research findings related to unwanted and coercive sexual experiences, from both the victim and the perpetrator perspectives.
She also can call on other partners to suggest effective prevention strategies. Kinsey Institute Board Member Deb Levine helped to develop a mobile solution to prevent dating abuse and violence on campuses, Circle of 6. This app gives users a discreet way to alert friends in a variety of threatening situations, such as tapping a car icon to send an exact location, a phone icon to have a friend to call to help extricate from a bad situation, or a quick tap for an emergency call.
The challenge of the prevention researchers and advocates is to provide age-appropriate and effective initiatives, from grade school through high school and into college.
The Kinsey Institute is committed to contributing to a research-based understanding of the problems and successful strategies.
“The statistics in Indiana are a sobering signal we must do more, earlier, to avert sexual aggression,” says Dr. Heiman. “Even a 10 percent decrease, which I am confident is possible in Indiana, would impact thousands of lives and the associated health and human costs.”
The full CEEP report is available online.