- Preventing Sexual Assault Through Engaging College Men
Sexual assault occurs at alarming rates on college campuses, with men committing 99% of these crimes toward women and in some instances toward other men (Rennison, 2002). The number of women who report surviving a completed or attempted sexual assault while in college has hovered around 25% since Mary Koss completed the first well-documented study of college acquaintance assault in 1985 (Fisher, Cullen, & Turner, 2000; Warshaw, 1994).
Historically sexual assault prevention has been seen as a "women's issue," and programmatic initiatives have focused on teaching women how to "protect" themselves, and largely neglected to engage men as allies in ending sexual violence against women. Prevention consisted of teaching women how to avoid potential perpetrators and by using tactics to escape dangerous situations, measures that are generally ineffective in addressing acquaintance rape, the most common form of sexual assault (Schewe & O'Donohue, 1993).
Recently some campus prevention programs have engaged men as allies in addressing sexual violence, recognizing that most men do not perpetuate sexual violence, and given the right skills will intervene in potential sexual assault situations. Although few people intend to cause harm, not acknowledging and addressing the environments that allow sexual violence to occur contributes to the problem of sexual violence. When students do not understand the complex connection between sexual violence and sexism, a rape-prone culture is perpetuated in unintentional ways, including inappropriate behaviors, traditions, and rituals that maintain some men's power over women (Davis & Liddell, 2002).
is "a learned behavior acquired through routine social and environmental interaction . . . and an extreme form of the traditionally socialized ways that men and women act in the context of sexual relations" (Davis & Liddell, 2002, p. 36). Researchers have found positive correlations between rape-supportive attitudes and behaviors including sexual aggression, history of sexual aggression, and likelihood of future sexual aggression (Lonsway & Fitzgerald, 1994; Truman, Toaker, & Fischer, 1996). Additionally, belief in traditional gender roles positively correlates with greater acceptance of rape myths, making obvious the link between traditional gender roles and sexual assault (Davis & Liddell, 2002; Truman et al., 1996).
Sexual Assault Prevention Programs and College Men
One-time programs do not appear to change rape-supportive cultures, nor do they change individuals' beliefs, values, and behaviors for an extended period of time (Lonsway, 1996; Berkowitz, 1994). Studies indicate that effective ways to reach students include using peer-to-peer education, conducting programs [End Page 585] in single-sex groups, and completing multiple programs with the same group (Black, Weisz, Coats, & Patterson, 2000; Brecklin & Forde, 2001; Davis & Liddell, 2002; Lonsway, 2000; O'Donohue, Yeater, & Fanetti, 2003).
The effectiveness of sexual assault prevention programs targeting men is currently being assessed. Some campuses recently implemented such programs, and studies show the programs are well received (Choate, 2003; Hong, 2000); however most have not been in place long enough to evaluate behavioral change. Systematic evaluation of multi-pronged approaches to sexual assault prevention is rarely conducted on college campuses (Lonsway, 1996; Schewe & O'Donohue, 1993), making it difficult to judge the amount of time required to impact students' attitudes and behaviors (Gidycz et al., 2001). The authors of the current study assert that by continuing to support campus programs designed to address sexual assault prevention through a multi-pronged approach, the number of people affected by sexual assault on campuses and in communities will decrease, leading to a safer and more welcoming climate for all. The study was guided by four research questions: (a) What did the men gain from participating in the Men's Project? (b) What did the men learn from participating in the Men's Project? (c) How did the men's attitudes and behaviors associated with rape and towards women change as a result of participating in the Men's Project? and (d) How did the men's bystander intervention knowledge, skills, and behavior change as a result of participating in the Men's Project? What strategies did they employ for interventions?
The Men's Project
The Men's Project, the focus of this study, uses an ecological/public health model for preventing sexual violence...