In this eighth "episode" of the National Institute of Justice's (NIJ's) Forensic Technology Center of Excellence's "Just Science" series, Dr. Christopher Krebs, a senior research social scientist at RTI International, is interviewed about his research on sexual assault on college campuses and in prisons, with attention to data-collection methods, which is useful for forensic scientists.
After a discussion of Dr. Kreb's educational background and experience in sexual-assault research, he describes his methodology in conducting such research in the contexts of prison and college campuses. His methodology in both of these contexts emphasizes the definition of "sexual assault" and the meaning of "consensual" and "non-consensual" sexual contact. He notes that his research defines "sexual assault" as any type of unwanted sexual contact. Given the prevalence of perpetrators' use of drugs to incapacitate their victims (an occurrence found to be more prevalent on college campuses than is commonly believed), the surveys and interviews emphasize that non-consent does not require a specific resistance to the sexual contact, but rather a conscious state of mind prior to the assault that the victim did not want sexual contact to occur. His methodology also included detailed inquiries about the type of sexual contact that occurred, so as to be clear that the unwanted contact was a sexual act. For sexual assault data for both prisons and college campuses, Dr. Krebs emphasizes the importance of distinguishing data according to particular prisons or campuses. Data on the prevalence and types of sexual assault should be specific to the institutions involved, so as to tailor prevention measures and interventions accordingly.