CrimeSolutions.gov

Additional Resources:

Practice Profile

Sexual Assault Education Programs on College Campuses

Evidence Ratings for Outcomes:

Effective - One Meta-Analysis Attitudes & Beliefs - Rape Attitudes
Effective - One Meta-Analysis Attitudes & Beliefs - Rape-related Attitudes

Practice Description

Practice Goals
Sexual assault education programs on college campuses were designed in response to the high incidences of sexual assaults experienced by college-aged women each year (Anderson and Whiston 2005). Although there are a variety of sexual assault education programs, all programs aim to reduce the prevalence of sexual assaults on college campuses by reducing the rape-supportive ideology for potential perpetrators while increasing potential victims’ knowledge and awareness of risky situations, and thereby their safety.

Practice Components
Sexual assault education programs are facilitated by trained peers, graduate students, professionals, or a combination of the three. While the programs vary, common components include, but are not limited to, educating participants about the occurrence of sexual assault and the behaviors and attitudes that are typically exhibited by rapists; how to communicate their sexual desires more clearly; how to distinguish between myths and facts about sexual assault; how to increase personal safety and avoid risky situations; and how to support a victim who is recovering from a sexual assault.

Programs vary in length, with some lasting approximately an hour, and others lasting 3 to 4 months. The program format could include role-play scenarios, classroom curricula, or videos depicting a sexual assault situation. The programs are typically interactive. For example, in programs that require participants to view a videotape that described a sexual assault scenario, participants are asked to discuss what happened and are taught ways they could avoid such a situation. In some programs, participants are invited to share experiences from their own lives (Lonsway et al. 1998)

Target Population
While the target population is college men and women, some programs vary further. For example, some programs may include college students in general, while others target fraternity/sorority members or high-risk students. Programs may include both men and women or single-sex groups (Foubert 2000; Breitenbecher and Scarce 1999; Gidycz et al. 2001; Heppner et al. 1995; Lonsway et al. 1998).

Meta-Analysis Outcomes

top border
Effective - One Meta-Analysis Attitudes & Beliefs - Rape Attitudes
Aggregating the effect sizes from 57 studies, Anderson and Whiston (2005) found that sexual assault education programs had a small, yet statistically significant impact on rape attitudes (average mean effect size of 0.211). In other words, sexual assault education programs decreased participants’ acceptance of rape myths, decreased participants’ likelihood of victim blaming, and caused participants to view rape more negatively.
Effective - One Meta-Analysis Attitudes & Beliefs - Rape-related Attitudes
Anderson and Whiston (2005) aggregated the effect sizes from 26 studies and found that sexual assault education programs had a statistically significant impact on rape-related attitudes (average mean effect size of 0.125). In other words, sexual assault education programs decreased sex-role stereotyping, increased participants’ positive attitudes toward women, and decreased adversarial sexual beliefs.
bottom border

Meta-Analysis Methodology

top border
Meta-Analysis Snapshot
 Literature Coverage DatesNumber of StudiesNumber of Study Participants
Meta-Analysis 11978 - 20026918172

Meta-Analysis 1
Anderson and Whiston (2005) evaluated the effectiveness of sexual assault education programs on reducing sexual assault on college campuses. Specifically, the meta-analysis looked at the impact of sexual assault education programs on the following seven outcomes: rape attitudes, rape empathy, rape-related attitudes, rape knowledge, behavioral intentions, rape awareness behaviors, and incidence of sexual assault. Rape attitudes focused on rape myths, victim blaming, and attitudes toward rape. Rape-related attitudes focused on attitudes that were thought to promote sexual assault, such as sex-role stereotyping and negative attitudes toward women.

To identify studies for their meta-analysis, the authors used keywords related to sexual assault (e.g., rape, prevention, intervention) to search the following databases: PsycINFO, ERIC, MEDLINE, Dissertation Abstracts Online, Criminal Justice Abstracts, Sociological Abstracts, and the Social Science Citation Index. References of relevant articles found through the initial database search were also examined. Studies were also located by examining the past 5 years of all relevant sexual assault journals and by contacting authors who were well-versed in the sexual assault literature. To be eligible for inclusion in the meta-analysis, studies had to examine an intervention designed to decrease sexual assault behaviors and rape-related attitudes. The study sample had to include North American college students who participated in a sexual assault education program. The study also had to measure the effectiveness of sexual assault education on at least one of the seven outcomes of interest. Data on these outcome variables had to be gathered at pretest and posttest, and the study had to compare one or more interventions with a control group. Eligible control groups included placebo, wait-list, minimal treatment, or no-treatment. Finally, each study had to provide the necessary information to calculate effect sizes.

The search yielded 120 potential studies. Of these, 69 studies met the inclusion criteria and were included in the meta-analysis. The 69 studies represented 102 treatment interventions, because some studies included more than one intervention. The included studies had a total sample size of 18,172, of which 48.7 percent were women. Sixty-eight percent of the included studies used random assignment, and the remaining studies used quasi-experimental designs. The average age of the sample was approximately 20. In studies where race/ethnicity could be determined, the following groups were represented: African American, Asian American, Latino, white, and other. Finally, regarding the control group used in the included studies, 59.4 percent used a no-treatment control, 10.1 percent used a wait-list control, 24.6 percent used a placebo intervention as a control, and 5.8 percent used minimal treatment as the control group.

The meta-analysis investigated seven outcomes representing 262 effect sizes; however, for the purpose of this CrimeSolutions.gov review, only rape attitudes and rape-related attitudes were analyzed, representing 115 effect sizes and 56 effect sizes, respectively. To analyze the impact of sexual assault education programs on sexual assault, each study outcome was weighted by an inverse variance weight and then combined to create a summary effect size, also known as the standardized mean difference.
bottom border

Cost

top border
There is no cost information available for this practice.
bottom border

Other Information

top border
Anderson and Whiston (2005) conducted moderator analyses to see if the impact of sexual assault education programs on rape attitudes and rape-related attitudes varied in terms of the population that received the intervention (e.g., general students, Greek members, high-risk students), the gender of the audience that received the intervention (e.g., females/female group, females/mixed group, males/male group, males/mixed group, females/males combined), the facilitator who led the intervention (e.g., peer, graduate student, professional, combination of the three), and content of the intervention (e.g., information, empathy, socialization, risk reduction, more than one type). Regarding the rape attitudes outcome, Anderson and Whiston (2005) found statistically significant differences in terms of the gender of the audience that received the intervention. Although women who received the intervention in an all-female group had the largest effect size (0.287), this effect size was not statistically significant. The largest statistically significant effect size was found for female/male combined groups (0.273), suggesting that being in mixed gender groups had the greatest impact on participants’ rape attitudes. Regarding the rape-related attitudes outcome, Anderson and Whiston (2005) found that the average effect size differed significantly in terms of the population that received the intervention and the type of facilitator who delivered the intervention. The moderator analysis revealed that fraternity/sorority members who received the intervention had a statistically significant effect size of 0.242. This finding suggested that fraternity/sorority members benefited more from the intervention, compared with students who were not in fraternities/sororities. Further, when professionals or peers facilitated the intervention, statistically significant effect sizes were found (0.209 and 0.157, respectively). This finding suggested that peers and professionals were more effective at implementing the program, compared with graduate students or a combination of peers, professionals, and graduate students.
bottom border

Evidence-Base (Meta-Analyses Reviewed)

top border
These sources were used in the development of the practice profile:

Meta-Analysis 1
Anderson, Linda A., and Susan C. Whiston. 2005. “Sexual Assault Education Programs: A Meta-Analytic Examination of Their Effectiveness.” Psychology of Women Quarterly 29(4):374–88.
bottom border

Additional References

top border
These sources were used in the development of the practice profile:

Brecklin, Leanne R., and David R. Forde. 2001. “A Meta-Analysis of Rape Education Programs.” Violence and Victims 16(3):303–21. (This meta-analysis was reviewed but did not meet CrimeSolutions.gov criteria for inclusion in the overall outcome rating.)

Breitenbecher, K. H., and M. Scarce. 1999. “A Longitudinal Evaluation of the Effectiveness of a Sexual Assault Education Program.” Journal of Interpersonal Violence 14(5):459–78.

Foubert, J. D. 2000. “The Longitudinal Effects of a Rape-Prevention Program on Fraternity Men's Attitudes, Behavioral Intent, and Behavior.” Journal of American College Health 48(4):158–63.

Gidycz, C. A., M. J. Layman., C. L. Rich, M. Crothers, J. Gylys, A. Matorin, and C. D. Jacobs. 2001. “An Evaluation of an Acquaintance Rape Prevention Program: Impact on Attitudes, Sexual Aggression, and Sexual Victimization.” Journal of Interpersonal Violence 16(11):1120–38.

Heppner, M. J., C. F. Humphrey, T. L. Hillenbrand-Gunn, and K. A. DeBord. 1995. “The Differential Effects of Rape Prevention Programming on Attitudes, Behavior, and Knowledge.” Journal of Counseling Psychology 42(4):508–18.

Lonsway, K. A., E. L. Klaw, D. R. Berg, C. R. Waldo, C. Kothari, C. J. Mazurek, and K. E. Hegeman. 1998. “Beyond ‘No Means No’ Outcomes of an Intensive Program to Train Peer Facilitators for Campus Acquaintance Rape Education.” Journal of Interpersonal Violence 13(1):73–92.
bottom border

Related Programs

top border
Following are CrimeSolutions.gov-rated programs that are related to this practice:

Sexual Assault Risk Reduction Program No Effects - More than one study
A rape prevention program for college students, which was designed to teach about the prevalence of sexual assault, distinguish between rape myths and facts, identify risky situations, and teach techniques that women can use in a risky situation. The program was rated No Effects. The program had a small effect on self-efficacy, and a small mixed-effect on self-protective dating behaviors, but did not impact sexual victimization, sexual aggression, attitudes toward women, or rape empathy.

Enhanced Access, Acknowledge, Act Sexual Assault Resistance Program (Canada) Effective - One study
This is an educational, skills-based workshop for first-year female college students in Canada. The program is designed to teach young women how to assess risk, overcome barriers in acknowledging danger, and engage in self-defense to reduce the risk of sexual assault. The program is rated Effective. The program significantly reduced the risk of completed and attempted rape, nonconsensual sexual acts, and attempted coercion. However, there was no impact on the risk of attempted coercion.
bottom border


Practice Snapshot

Age: 18 - 21

Gender: Both

Race/Ethnicity: American Indians/Alaska Native, Asian/Pacific Islander, Black, Hispanic, Other, White

Settings: Campus

Practice Type: Classroom Curricula, Community Awareness/Mobilization, Situational Crime Prevention, Specific deterrence, Victim Programs, Violence Prevention

Unit of Analysis: Persons