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Rape Prevention Through Bystander Education: Bringing a Broader Community Perspective to Sexual Violence Prevention

NCJ Number
Date Published
347 pages
This report presents the evaluation of a bystander education program designed to prevent sexual violence.
Increasing recognition of the pervasive problem of sexual violence has lead to many types of prevention efforts. In order to determine what works in terms of rape prevention, empirical evaluation of existing programs is necessary. Following a review of the current rape prevention literature, the authors contend that the social and community psychology research literature offers a broad framework from which to expand rape prevention efforts. One such expanded rape prevention program that is grounded in a "community of responsibility" framework was evaluated for this research. Participants were 389 undergraduate college students who were randomly assigned to 1 of 2 treatment groups or the control group. Treatment groups received programming on how women and men can intervene safely and effectively in cases of sexual violence before, during, and after incidents involving attacks by strangers, acquaintances, or friends. The program does not label women as victims or men as perpetrators, but rather views both women and men as potential bystanders who can be empowered to intervene in cases of rape. The program is based on research findings concerning community change and prevention, as well as individually-focused studies of rape prevention and bystander behavior. Outcome measures for the current evaluation were gathered at pretest, posttest, and at 2-, 4-, and 12-month follow-ups. Outcome measures included readiness to change, knowledge, and attitudes. At the 2-month follow-up, participants in the treatment conditions exhibited improvements across the measures, while the control group showed no changes. Most program outcomes remained at the 4- and 12-month follow-up. Men and women appeared equally benefited by the program. Thus, the utility of using a bystander approach to rape prevention was confirmed and remains an area rich for future research. Figures, tables, references, appendixes

Date Published: January 1, 2005