Skip to main content

Bystander Program Effectiveness to Reduce Violence and Violence Acceptance Within Sexual Minority Male and Female High School Students Using a Cluster RCT

Abstract

Bystander interventions have been highlighted as promising strategies to reduce sexual violence and sexual harassment, yet their effectiveness for sexual minority youth remains largely unexamined in high schools’ populations. This rigorous cluster randomized control trial addresses this gap by evaluating intervention effectiveness among sexual majority and minority students known be to at increased risk of sexual violence. Kentucky high schools were randomized to intervention or control conditions. In intervention schools, educators provided school-wide Green Dot presentations (phase 1) and intensive bystander training to student popular opinion leaders (phase 2). Each spring from 2010 to 2014, students attending 26 high schools completed anonymous surveys about violence acceptance and violent events. An analytic sample of 74,836 surveys with no missing data over the 5 years was available. Sexual violence acceptance scores declined significantly over time in intervention versus control schools among all but sexual minority males. This intervention was also associated with reductions in both perpetration and victimization of sexual violence, sexual harassment, and physical dating violence among sexual majority yet not sexual minority youth. Both sexual minority and majority youth experienced reductions in stalking victimization and perpetration associated with the intervention. In this large cluster randomized controlled trial, the bystander intervention appears to work best to reduce violence for sexual majority youth. Bystander programs may benefit from explicitly engaging sexual minority youth in intervention efforts or adapting intervention programs to include attitudes that shape the experience of sexual minority high school youth (e.g., homophobic teasing, homonegativity).

This is a preview of subscription content, access via your institution.

Fig. 1

References

  • Banyard, V. L., Moynihan, M. M., & Plante, E. G. (2007). Sexual violence prevention through bystander education: An experimental evaluation. Journal of Community Psychology, 35, 463–481.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Banyard, V. L., Plante, E. G., & Moynihan, M. M. (2004). Bystander education: Bringing a broader community perspective to sexual violence prevention. Journal of Community Psychology, 32, 61–79.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Berkowitz, A. D. (2002). Fostering men’s responsibility for preventing sexual assault. In P. A. Schewe (Ed.), Preventing violence in relationships: Interventions across the life span (pp. 163–196). Washington, D.C.: American Psychological Association.

    Chapter  Google Scholar 

  • Black, M. C., Basile, K. C., Breiding, M. J., Smith, S. G., Walters, M. L., Merrick, M. T., et al. (2011). The National Intimate Partner and Sexual Violence Survey (NISVS): 2010 summary report. Atlanta, GA: National Center for Injury Prevention and Control, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

    Google Scholar 

  • Brown, A. L., & Messman-Moore, T. L. (2010). Personal and perceived peer attitudes supporting sexual aggression as predictors of male college students’ willingness to intervene against sexual aggression. Journal of Interpersonal Violence, 25, 503–517.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Casey, E., Carlson, J., Two Bulls, S., & Yager, A. (2018). Gender transformative approaches to engaging men in gender-based violence prevention: A review and conceptual model. Trauma, Violence & Abuse, 19, 231–246.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Chiodo, D., Wolfe, D. A., Crooks, C., Hughes, R., & Jaffe, P. (2009). Impact of sexual harassment victimization by peers on subsequent adolescent victimization and adjustment: A longitudinal study. Journal of Adolescent Health, 45, 246–252.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Coker, A. L., Bush, H. M., Brancato, C. J., Clear, E. R., & Recktenwald, E. A. (2019). Bystander program effectiveness to reduce violence acceptance: RCT in high schools. Journal of Family Violence, 34(3), 153–164. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10896-018-9961-8.

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  • Coker, A. L., Bush, H. M., Cook-Craig, P. G., DeGue, S. A., Clear, E. R., Brancato, C. J., et al. (2017). RCT testing bystander effectiveness to reduce violence. American Journal of Preventive Medicine, 52, 566–578.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Coker, A. L., Bush, H. M., Fisher, B. S., Swan, S. C., Williams, C. M., Clear, E. R., & DeGue, S. A. (2016). Multi-college bystander intervention evaluation for violence prevention. American Journal of Preventive Medicine, 50, 295–302.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Coker, A. L., Cook-Craig, P. G., Williams, C. M., Fisher, B. S., Clear, E. R., Garcia, L. S., & Hegge, L. M. (2011). Evaluation of Green Dot: An active bystander intervention to reduce sexual violence on college campuses. Violence Against Women, 17, 777–796.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Cook-Craig, P. G., Coker, A. L., Clear, E. R., Garcia, L. S., Bush, H. M., Brancato, C. J., et al. (2014). Challenge and opportunity in evaluating a diffusion-based active bystanding prevention program: Green dot in high schools. Violence Against Women, 20, 1179–1202.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Coulter, R. W. S., & Rankin, S. R. (2017). College sexual assault and campus climate for sexual- and gender-minority undergraduate students. Journal of Interpersonal Violence, epub ahead of print, 1–16.

  • Darley, J. M., & Latane, B. (1968). Bystander intervention in emergencies: Diffusion of responsibility. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 4, 377–383.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Davies, M., Gilston, J., & Rogers, P. (2012). Examining the relationship between male rape myth acceptance, female rape myth acceptance, victim blame, homophobia, gender roles, and ambivalent sexism. Journal of Interpersonal Violence, 27, 2807–2823.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Dessel, A. B., Goodman, K. D., & Woodford, M. R. (2017). LGBT discrimination on campus and heterosexual bystanders: Understanding intentions to intervene. Journal of Diversity in Higher Education, 10, 101–116.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Dworkin, S. L., Fleming, P. J. & Colvin, C. J. (2015). The promises and limitations of gender-transformative health programming with men: Critical reflections from the field. Culture, Health, & Sexuality, 17:sup2.

  • Edwards, K. M. (2018). Incidence and outcomes of dating violence victimization among high school youth: The role of gender and sexual orientation. Journal of Interpersonal Violence, 33, 1472–1490.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Espelage, D. L., Basile, K. C., Leemis, R. W., Hipp, T. N., & Davis, J. P. (2018). Longitudinal examination of the bullying-sexual violence pathway across early to late adolescence: Implicating homophobic name-calling. Journal of Youth and Adolescence, 47, 1880–1893.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Fabiano, P. M., Perkins, H. W., Berkowitz, A., Linkenbach, J., & Stark, C. (2003). Engaging men as social justice allies in ending violence against women: Evidence for a social norms approach. Journal of American College Health, 52, 105–112.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Gidycz, C. A., Orchowski, L. M., & Berkowitz, A. D. (2011). Preventing sexual aggression among college men: An evaluation of a social norms and bystander intervention program. Violence Against Women, 17, 720–742.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Hong, L. (2017). Digging up the roots, rustling the leaves: A critical consideration of the root causes of sexual violence and why higher education needs more courage. In J. C. Harris & C. Linder (Eds.), Intersections of identity and sexual violence on campus: Centering minoritized students experiences. Stylus: Sterling, VA.

    Google Scholar 

  • Johns, M. M., Lowry, R., Rasberry, C. N., Dunville, R., Robin, L., Pampati, S., et al. (2018). Violence victimization, substance use, and suicide risk among sexual minority high school students -- United States, 2015-2017. Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report, 67, 1211–1215.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Kauermann, G., Caroll, R.J. (2001). A note on the efficiency of sandwich covariance matrix estimation. Jounal of the American Statistical Association, 96(456), 1387–1396.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Katz, J., Heisterkamp, H. A., & Fleming, W. M. (2011). The social justice roots of the mentors in violence prevention model and its application in a high school setting. Violence Against Women, 17, 684–702.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Katz, J., & Moore, J. (2013). Bystander education training for campus sexual assault prevention: An initial meta-analysis. Violence and Victims, 28, 1054–1067. https://doi.org/10.1891/0886-6708.VV-D-12-00113.

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  • Kelly, J. A. (2004). Popular opinion leaders and HIV prevention peer education: Resolving discrepant findings, and implications for the development of effective community programmes AU - Kelly, J. A. AIDS Care, 16, 139–150.

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  • Martin, J. L. (2008). Peer sexual harassment: Finding voice, changing culture -- an intervention strategy for adolescent females. Violence Against Women, 14, 100–124.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • McCauley, H. L., Tancredi, D. J., Silverman, J. G., Decker, M. R., Austin, S. B., McCormick, M. C., Virata, M. C., & Miller, E. (2013). Gender-equitable attitudes, bystander behavior, and recent abuse perpetration against heterosexual dating partners of male high school athletes. American Journal of Public Health, 103, 1882–1887.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • McMahon, S. (2010). Rape myth beliefs and bystander attitudes among incoming college students AU - McMahon, Sarah. Journal of American College Health, 59, 3–11.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Meyer, I. H. (2003). Prejudice, social stress, and mental health in lesbian, gay and bisexual populations: Conceptual issues and research evidence. Psychological Bulletin, 12, 674–697.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Miller, E., Tancredi, D. J., McCauley, H. L., Decker, M. R., Virata, M. C. D., Anderson, H. A., et al. (2013). One-year follow-up of a coach-delivered dating violence prevention program: A cluster randomized controlled trial. American Journal of Preventive Medicine, 45, 108–112.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Payne, D. L., Lonsway, K. A., & Fitzgerald, L. F. (1999). Rape myth acceptance: Exploration of its structure and its measurement using the Illinois rape myth acceptance scale. Journal of Research in Personality, 33, 27–68.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Robinson-Cimpian, J. P. (2014). Inaccurate estimation of disparities due to mischievous responders: Several suggestions to assess conclusions. Educational Researcher, 43, 171–185.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Tjaden, P., & Thoennes, N. (1998). Prevalence, incidence,and consequences of violence against women: Findings from the National Violence Against Women Survey. Washington, D.C.: National Institute of Justice, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, U.S. Department of Justice.

  • Wilson, L. C., & Newins, A. R. (2019). Rape acknowledgment and sexual minority identity: The indirect effect of rape myth acceptance. Psychology of Sexual Orientation and Gender Diversity, 6, 113–119.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Worthen, M. G. F. (2017). Rape myth acceptance among lesbian, gay, bisexual, and mostly heterosexual college students. Journal of Interpersonal Violence, epub ahead of print doi: https://doi.org/10.1177/0886260517733282.

Download references

Funding

Research was supported by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Cooperative Agreement 5U01CE001675.

Author information

Authors and Affiliations

Authors

Corresponding author

Correspondence to Ann L. Coker.

Ethics declarations

Conflict of Interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Ethical Approval

All procedures performed in studies involving human participants were in accordance with the ethical standards of the institutional and/or national research committee and with the 1964 Helsinki declaration and its later amendments or comparable ethical standards.

Informed Consent

Informed consent was obtained from all individual participants included in the study.

Disclaimer

The findings and conclusions in this manuscript are those of the authors and do not necessarily represent the official position of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Additional information

Publisher’s Note

Springer Nature remains neutral with regard to jurisdictional claims in published maps and institutional affiliations.

Electronic Supplementary Material

ESM 1

(DOCX 67 kb)

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Verify currency and authenticity via CrossMark

Cite this article

Coker, A.L., Bush, H.M., Clear, E.R. et al. Bystander Program Effectiveness to Reduce Violence and Violence Acceptance Within Sexual Minority Male and Female High School Students Using a Cluster RCT. Prev Sci 21, 434–444 (2020). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11121-019-01073-7

Download citation

  • Published:

  • Issue Date:

  • DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/s11121-019-01073-7

Keywords

  • Violence acceptance
  • Bystander intervention
  • Sexual minority