Sexual Assault Climate Surveys: Methodological Issues and Innovations, Introduction to the Special Edition

Sarah McMahon, Leila Wood, Julia O’Connor, Antoinette Y. Farmer, Bethany Backes

Research output: Contribution to journalEditorialpeer-review


Decades of research demonstrate the widespread nature of campus sexual violence and its negative impact on students’ well-being. Attention to the issue has increased significantly over the last several years with a focus on the responsibility of institutions of higher education to both respond to and prevent campus sexual violence. A key recommendation from multiple entities is the use of campus climate surveys, to help more accurately ascertain students’ victimization experiences, perceptions of the institution’s response, attitudes related to sexual violence, awareness of resources, and more. The recent Violence against Women Reauthorization Act of 2022 mandates the use of climate surveys for all institutions receiving federal funds. The science of constructing, implementing, and using campus climate surveys has evolved over recent years but there still remain several methodological issues. Social workers have an important role to play in the administration, analysis, and interpretation of campus climate surveys, and the work is aligned with the values expressed in the Social Work Code of Ethics and the Grand Challenge to Build Healthy Relationships to End Violence. This introduction describes the articles included in this special issue that will help advance our knowledge related to the measurement of forms of victimization that occur on college campuses, increase the usability and inclusivity of campus climate data, and ultimately, serve to inform the development of innovative intervention and prevention initiatives.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)509-520
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of Evidence-Based Social Work (United States)
Issue number5
StatePublished - 2022
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Health(social science)
  • Social Psychology
  • Sociology and Political Science


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