Thursday, April 07, 2011

Calling BS on a statistic

No, I'm not buying the notion that San Antonio women are sexually assaulted more often during Fiesta than at other times of the year.
SAN ANTONIO -- A sexual assault examiner said a rise in sexual assaults usually corresponds to the 11-day, citywide party, Fiesta.

Already this month, 20 sexual assault victims have been treated by Shelley Botello and her Sexual Assault Response team at Methodist Specialty and Transplant Hospital.

In April of last year, she said, the hospital treated 80 victims. She said her team typically handles 50 to 60 cases monthly.

Now that Fiesta has begun, Botello said it's a sign of what's to come, because 67 percent of the hospital's cases involve alcohol and drug consumption prior to the assaults.

"It makes them easy prey for predators," Botello said.

Before isolating a victim from others prior to the attack, "the predator will often sit back, (and) kind of observe the behavior of that person," Botello said.

She said the victims range in age from 17 to 25.
(from KSAT-12)

This is akin to the bogus claim that women are victims of domestic violence more during the Super Bowl than on any other day, no matter what day it is. The statistic of a rise in sexual assaults sounds shocking, and -- on the surface -- it is such a no-brainer to believe (more drunk people = more sex) that it must be true. But I really don't see any evidence of it in this news story.

There's no link to any data on the KSAT news story or on Botello's Facebook page, which KSAT links to. Without the ability to quickly and easily examine the raw data she's referencing, I remain suspicious. What about the Aprils of previous years? How do they compare? Maybe 2010 was an anomaly, maybe it wasn't. It's impossible to tell with what we're given. The tips Botello gives on avoiding being a victim is good advice, but that goes for any time of year. I get that she is using San Antonio's big party as a chance to get media attention for her cause, but I'm not so quick to believe there's a causal relationship between Fiesta and sexual assault. Not enough to account for a significant rise every April, at least.

Hey, sexual assault is serious. I'm not claiming otherwise. But it's dangerous to imply causality where there is none.

1 comment:

Sabra said...

Fiesta is the root of all evil this year. It's now the cause of our drunk driving problem. Victoria Flores-Paniagua's column yesterday spoke of a "spike" in DUIs in April. Unfortunately for her cause, she also said that that month had the second-highest number last year. No mention of what the highest-number month was, or of what March & May looked like in comparison.