The 2012 Alaska Dashboard provides at-a-glance information on key population indicators related to the Office of the Governor Sean Parnell’s Choose Respect initiative to end the epidemic of domestic violence and sexual assault in Alaska. The Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault Data Group, which includes representatives from state, tribal, and nonprofit agencies, was convened by the Office of the Governor to develop these population indicators. The Data Group thoroughly reviewed potential population indicators and identified 32 indicators for the Dashboard. These indicators were selected because they provide a broad overview—at the population level—of key issues that impact domestic violence and sexual assault in Alaska. Population indicators were selected only if they were reliable, valid, and replicable.
The 2012 Dashboard includes nine different categories for which population indicators have been identified:
- childhood exposure to domestic violence
- child and youth victimization
- reports of harm for children and youth
- adult and elder victimization
- reports of harm for adults and elders
- primary prevention and protective factors
- reports to law enforcement
- utilization of services
- offender accountability
For the first time, these different indicators are presented together, and they now establish a baseline for the state of Alaska. Additional categories and indicators will be included in future versions of the Dashboard.
Because these are population indicators, they may be different than performance measures found in other reports. The goal of the Dashboard is not to assess the effectiveness of individual agencies. As noted above, the Dashboard is designed to provide a broader overview of the key issues that impact domestic violence and sexual assault in Alaska.
The Dashboard includes previous Alaska data, current Alaska data, the percentage change from the previous data to the current data, and an indication of progress. Definitions for each indicator and the year for each data point are included in the full version of the Dashboard, available on the Council on Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault (CDVSA) website (http://dps.alaska.gov/cdvsa/). The progress column is a subjective assessment by CDVSA on whether progress to date has been satisfactory, uncertain, or needs improvement. During the initial phases of the Choose Respect initiative, the goals are to:
- decrease victimization
- increase the number of victimizations that are reported to law enforcement
- increase the number of victims that are accessing services
- increase offender accountability
- increase primary prevention and protective factors
Primary prevention includes approaches to prevent initial perpetration or victimization before violence has occurred.
When looking at assessment, for example, indicator number 23 shows that the rate of youth utilizing services for sexual assault was 43.3 per 10,000 in FY 2010. In FY 2011, the rate of youth utilizing services for sexual assault decreased to 31.4 per 10,000. The rate of youth utilizing services for sexual assault is the number of unduplicated youth per 10,000 (ages 12 to 17) who utilized services from a CDVSA-funded domestic violence and sexual assault service agency, and who were recorded at that agency as being primary victims of sexual assault. Relative to FY 2010, the rate of youth utilizing services for sexual assault declined by 27 percent. Again, the percentage change is the increase or decrease in the current Alaska data relative to the previous Alaska data. (Percentage changes may or may not be statistically significant). CDVSA determined that the progress on this indicator needs improvement. It is hoped that in the first phase of the initiative, youths who are victims of sexual assault will seek and utilize assistance services at a higher rate than previously recorded. Unfortunately, as stated above, the rate decreased by 27 percent in FY 2011 relative to FY 2010. (Readers are encouraged to obtain the full version of the Dashboard online, which includes important definitions for each data point.)
While overall the level of violence in our communities remains unacceptably high, there are some hopeful data. For example, child and youth victimization declined from 2009 to 2011. The percentage of students experiencing physical dating violence in the past year declined by 10 percent and the percentage of students experiencing sexual violence in their lifetime declined by 9 percent. Nonetheless, these data should be interpreted cautiously, as they represent self-disclosures to survey questions rather than the actual rates of victimization.
For additional information on the 2012 Alaska Dashboard, contact Lauree Morton, Executive Director for the Council on Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault (firstname.lastname@example.org).
André Rosay is the Director of the Justice Center.