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An Evaluation of Gender Violence/Harassment Prevention Programs in Middle Schools

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Description of original award (Fiscal Year 2005, $425,210)

Sexual violence and harassment (SV/H) can lead to serious injuries for victims, and particularly young women. Other consequences may include poorer mental and physical health, more high-risk/deviant behavior, and increased school avoidance. Schools that do not address SV/H among students can become training grounds for future violence and sexual assault. The goals are to enhance the capacity of programs to prevent SV/H by increasing knowledge about the efficacy of prevention programs through the most rigorous and cost-effective evaluation methods available. Guided by the Theory of Reasoned Action, the researchers will employ an experimental, longitudinal design for the proposed two-year study. Letters of cooperation from the participating school districts and program have been secured to randomly assign one hundred 6th and 7th grade classrooms in the Cleveland area to one of three conditions: ' Treatment 1: A gender socialization-based curriculum that addresses SV/H, by focusing on construction of gender roles, power and control in relationships, hypermasculinity, and compulsory heterosexuality and healthy relationships. ' Treatment 2: A criminal justice-based curriculum for SV/H prevention focusing on deterring aggressive behavior and teaching self-control. Deterrence is achieved through a fact-based curriculum emphasizing the consequences for perpetrators of SV/H, State laws and penalties for SV/H, and the teaching of anger management. ' Control group: This group will not receive any of the elements of Treatments 1 or 2. Quantitative surveys will be administered immediately before, immediately after, and 6 months after treatment. Additionally, a small number of key informant interviews with program staff and focus groups with teachers will be conducted to assess the integrity/fidelity of the intervention delivery. The objectives are to answer the following questions: 1. Do SV/H prevention programs in middle schools reduce the probability of SV/H perpetration/victimization, have no effect, or lead to negative effects? (Analysis through HLM and inductive analysis of related qualitative data.) a. What are the effects of providing prevention programs compared to no prevention? b. Are prevention programs that incorporate a gender socialization component (Treatment 1) more effective in changing knowledge, attitudes, and behavior than programs that are fact-based (Treatment 2), or than no programming at all (control group)? c. Do moderator variables affect the relationship between treatment and outcomes? 2. How cost-effective are the two interventions? (Assessment using cost-effectiveness analysis.) CA/NFC

Date Created: September 21, 2005