Relationship violence and non-partner sexual violence among young people and young adults in New York city: implications for practice
Fry, Deborah Ann
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The six research papers and journal articles that form this submission all focus on the nature of and response to young people and young adults who have experienced relationship violence and non-partner sexual violence in New York City (NYC). These six empirical papers are based on three primary research studies in which I was the Principal Investigator spanning four years of research work: • A quantitative study of 1,312 young people in NYC high schools, • A survey of 65 survivors of sexual violence about their experiences with services (hospital, counselling, police and criminal justice) in NYC, and • A comprehensive survey of 39 emergency departments in NYC about acute care provision for sexual assault patients. These studies are innovative in that all three are ‘firsts’ in the field of violence prevention and response: ‘Partners and Peers’ was the first study of its kind to explore the prevalence of sexual and dating violence in NYC amongst high school students. This study found that 16.2% or more than 1 in 6 students surveyed reported experiencing sexual violence at some point in their lives. Of these youth, 10.1% reported experiencing non-partner sexual violence (sexual abuse or forced sex), and 14.1% reported experiencing sexual violence from a dating partner. The survey was available in both Spanish and English (both versions translated and back-translated). Passive parental consent and student assent were obtained with parental consent letters available in English, Spanish and Chinese. Three ethical review boards, including the NYC Department of Education, approved this study. ‘A Room of Our Own’ was the first study to explore from survivors’ own perspectives their satisfaction with the care and support they received post-assault in NYC with the majority of respondents having experienced a sexual assault under the age of 25 (study was approved by eight Ethics Review Boards), and ‘How Safe is NYC’ was the first study to comprehensively map protocols, procedures and services offered across Emergency Departments in NYC including how adolescent patients are treated. All three of these studies garnering significant media coverage which appeared in the New York Sun, The Washington Post, the New York Post, The New York Daily News, El Diario and on CBS news (TV) and WBAI radio. Three of the six submitted publications have already been ranked internally as part of the Moray House School of Education’s REF submission (my 4th REF submission was another journal article on a different area of child protection) and they have all been recognised as internationally excellent in terms of originality, significance and rigour. This body of work has had and continues to have significant implications for practice as highlighted in this thesis. The study of survivors’ perspectives and acute care responses in emergency departments led directly to a change in New York State Law for ambulance destination designation and a commitment from the NYC Mayor for Sexual Assault Forensic Services in all public NYC hospitals. The school-based study findings also directly led the NYC Chancellor to change the disciplinary regulations in all New York City high schools in relation to adolescent relationship violence. This research highlights the need for practitioners, policymakers and researchers to better understand the nature of relationship violence and non-partner sexual violence among adolescents and young adults in New York City in order to develop evidence-informed programmes and policies for prevention and response.