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Accountability, Collaboration, and Social Change: Ethical Tensions in an Action Research Project to Address Untested Sexual Assault Kits (SAKs)

NCJ Number
American Journal of Community Psychology Volume: 60 Issue: 3-4 Dated: 2017 Pages: 476-482
Date Published
7 pages
This article reports on a collaborative action research project with stakeholders in Detroit, Michigan, to develop long-term policy strategies to resolve 11,000 untested rape kits that were discovered in a police storage facility in August 2009.

The study found overwhelming evidence of victim-blaming behaviors and fundamental disrespect of rape survivors by the police, which directly contributed to their decisions not to submit kits for forensic testing. The researchers had an ethical responsibility to report these negative findings accurately and completely, and in doing so, they were concerned that police stakeholders might disengage from the action research project and hamper the researchers of other ethical responsibilities to promote general and public welfare. The article examines the ethical challenges of balancing accountability, collaboration, and social change. (publisher abstract modified)

Date Published: January 1, 2017