How do you stop the boogeyman? An evaluation of a sexual assault prevention program

Hilary Brooke Jones, University of Rhode Island


Sexual assault is a widespread phenomenon, and most girls are taught from a young age that it is something they should fear. This fear restricts their freedom, and if their fear is realized, there are significant physical, psychological, and societal effects. Because of this, it is in the best interest of all members of society to try to prevent sexual assault. While much previous sexual assault prevention work has focused on self-defense and risk-reduction strategies for women, recent work in prevention programs has focused on changing gender stereotypes, rape myths, and social norms around sexual violence with the hope of encouraging bystanders to intervene when they witness sexual comments, and for fewer men to engage in sexual violence. The current study evaluated the Keeping Kids Safe program, a four-session sexual assault prevention program targeting middle school students in Rhode Island. ^ Participants in the study were 362 seventh-grade students (53% students of color, 44% white) at one rural and two urban schools, whose parents had given permission for them to attend the program. At the start of the first session, students were given assent forms and a survey assessing knowledge about sexual assault and bullying. At the conclusion of the last session, they were again given the knowledge items, as well as. Significant differences were found in knowledge from pre- to post-test for most survey items. Girls' knowledge scores increased more than boys' scores, and students of color had lower pre- and post-test scores than white students. Overall, students claimed to have learned a lot from the program, and that they intended to change their behavior in the future in accordance with what they were taught. These results suggest that programs focusing on middle-school students can be effective in educating students about sexual assault and in changing behavioral intentions of students. In addition, the importance of gender, ethnicity, victimization status, program length, and survey validity are discussed. ^

Subject Area

Education, Secondary|Psychology, Experimental|Education, Curriculum and Instruction

Recommended Citation

Hilary Brooke Jones, "How do you stop the boogeyman? An evaluation of a sexual assault prevention program" (2008). Dissertations and Master's Theses (Campus Access). Paper AAI3314443.