Sexual Assault in the Military, School Security, Mental Health Care: RAND Weekly Recap

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June 4, 2021

We discuss the risk of sexual assault to sexual minorities in the U.S. military; prescribing medications for opioid addiction; improving security in America's schools; how to transform mental health care; whether micromobility is living up to the hype; and countering Russian propaganda.

A formation of U.S. Army soldiers with III Corps and Fort Hood honor the American flag as they lower it during the Retreat ceremony, March 27, 2014, photo by U.S. Army

Photo by U.S. Army

The Risk of Sexual Assault to Sexual Minorities in the U.S. Military

U.S. service members who identify as lesbian, gay, or bisexual and others who did not indicate that they identify as heterosexual represented 12 percent of the active-duty population in 2018. But they accounted for an estimated 43 percent of all sexually assaulted service members. That's according to a new RAND study.

“We know in the civilian world that sexual minorities are often targeted for bullying, intimidation, and sexual assault,” lead author Andrew Morral tweeted. “There are indications the same occurs in the military.” Understanding the risk that sexual minorities in the military face could help leaders better identify and prevent behavior that often precedes assault.

Closeup of a doctor's hand, writing a prescription, Photo by LumiNola/Getty Images

Photo by LumiNola/Getty Images

Most Buprenorphine Prescriptions Written by Small Number of Providers

Buprenorphine is a drug that helps people with opioid addiction manage their illness and refrain from illicitly using opioids. A new RAND study finds that most prescriptions for buprenorphine are written by a small number of health care providers. This suggests that providing targeted support to current prescribers who are willing to safely treat more patients may be a more effective strategy than focusing on boosting the number of new prescribers.

School hallway interior, photo by urfinguss/Getty Images

Photo by urfinguss/Getty Images

Improving Security in America's Schools

A secure environment in schools is not only essential to student and teacher safety, but also to effective teaching and learning. The Homeland Security Operational Analysis Center operated by RAND conducted an analysis to identify obstacles to developing and implementing school security plans. Findings show that limited funding and staff expertise are the most-common challenges in security planning. On top of that, existing policies on school safety are a disconnected set of statutes, regulations, and resources.

A young woman having a counseling session with a psychologist using a video conferencing tool, photo by PeopleImages/Getty Images

Photo by PeopleImages/Getty Images

How to Transform Mental Health Care

Elevated rates of anxiety and depression have persisted in the COVID-19 era. According to RAND's Ryan McBain, this moment is an opportunity to “cut short the pandemic's long tail of mental illness by taking decisive action.” In particular, there are three key areas that policymakers and others could address, he says: continuing to expand telehealth to increase access to mental health care, screening for mental disorders in primary care, and reducing stigma, starting in schools.

Two men ride electric scooters on Capitol Hill in Washington D.C., March 20, 2020, photo by Gripas Yuri/ABACA via Reuters

Two people ride electric scooters in Washington D.C., March 20, 2020

Photo by Gripas Yuri/ABACA via Reuters

Is Micromobility Delivering on Its Promise?

A few years ago, sharable bikes and scooters took cities by storm. It seemed like the micromobility revolution had arrived. According to proponents, these new modes of transportation would solve many urban problems, such as traffic congestion, pollution, and transit deserts. But is micromobility living up to the hype? To help answer this question, RAND experts devised a checklist of nine key considerations to help cities and companies understand whether micromobility can work in certain locations.

Russian President Vladimir Putin speaks with Commander-in-Chief of the Russian Navy Admiral Vladimir Korolev at the Navy Day parade in St. Petersburg, Russia, July 30, 2017, photo by Alexander Zemlianichenko/Reuters

Vladimir Putin speaks with Commander-in-Chief of the Russian Navy Admiral Vladimir Korolev, St. Petersburg, July 30, 2017

Photo by Alexander Zemlianichenko/Reuters

Countering Russian Propaganda

There is a wide array of published guidance aimed at addressing Russian disinformation and other state-sponsored propaganda. To help policymakers make sense of this body of work, RAND experts identified and coded recommendations from dozens of policy reports. They found that the most common recommendations focused on expanding media literacy initiatives, enhancing social media platforms' policies for detecting and removing foreign propaganda, and improving social media advertising practices.

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