Rape Prevention Program Changes Teens’ Attitudes About Sexual Assault

Girls are at a four- to five-fold increased risk of sexual assault than teenage boys. Schools have worked hard to address this issue by implementing programs designed to teach students about the dangers of sexual assault, the risks leading to sexual assault, and how to prevent this type of abuse from happening. However, because most of these educational approaches are presented to boys and girls simultaneously, they do not specifically target some of the issues that are unique to girls. In particular, they focus on intimate partner assault, and not dangers posed by acquaintances. They do not fully target how a woman can protect herself and what to do if she is assaulted. Therefore, researchers have developed a pilot program known as Assess, Acknowledge, Act (AAA) to better empower young women with the skills and tools necessary to cope with risks and consequences associated with sexual assault.

Charlene Y. Senn of the Department of Psychology at the University of Windsor in Ontario recently led a study assessing how AAA improved girls’ consciousness of rape risk, prevention, and coping strategies on a sample of 59 high school and 88 college women. After the nine-hour course, Senn interviewed the women and found that AAA was highly successful at transforming women’s attitudes toward sexual assault. Specifically, AAA increased the girls’ awareness that sexual assault was common among acquaintances, not just romantic partners. “Another important program effect was the increase in young women’s belief in their own ability to defend themselves successfully if they were sexually assaulted,” Senn said. Many young women believed they would be unable to defend against attempts at sexual assault, and that there would be repercussions if they did. AAA strengthened women’s beliefs that they are capable of initiating defensive actions and decreased their fear of retaliation.

One of the most significant outcomes was related to attitude about rape and sexual assault. The participants in the program looked at victims differently after they enrolled in the course. They felt that reporting the assault was important, and that victims of sexual assault were not to blame and should be supported. This was in stark contrast to how they viewed victims prior to AAA. This fundamental perceptual shift was especially evident in the youngest participants. Senn believes that her study shows that AAA, and programs like it, are critically important for young girls, especially those still in high school. Also, these results clearly show that AAA is effective at raising sexual assault awareness and has the potential to empower young women and decrease their risk of assault.

Reference:
Senn, C. Y. (2012). Education on resistance to acquaintance sexual assault: Preliminary promise of a new program for young women in high school and university. Canadian Journal of Behavioural Science / Revue canadienne des sciences du comportement. Advance online publication. doi: 10.1037/a0029915

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  • norah

    norah

    December 16th, 2012 at 1:34 PM

    Don’t you think that boys would benefit from this type of program too?

    Not that they need empowerment because I think that this feeling of feeling bold and entitaled is what causes them to act in this way in the first place. But to emphasize to them just how wrong it is to treat their friends this way, that’s important and shouldn’t be overlooked.
    We have to give the girls the information to keep themselves safe and the boys the info that they need to understand that they are not welcome to take advantage of these situations anymore.

  • buzz

    buzz

    December 16th, 2012 at 2:18 PM

    I always wondered why some women prefer not to report such an incident.maybe it is the fear or maybe they do not want to talk about it.but that will only protect and give further confidence to the perpetrator.to enable women to know how their actions can help them and not hurt them is a good thing and will also serve purpose in being detrimental to the prospective perpetrators out there.

  • shelley

    shelley

    December 17th, 2012 at 4:02 AM

    When you encounter something like rape, especially among young girls, so many of the are afraid to report it because they are not even sure if rape is the right term for what has happeneed to them. I am sure that there are many girls who think that this can’t be rape because it happened with someone that they know, so how is that rape? I hope that programs like this show them that even when it is someone that they know, it is still violence against them. That this is wrong and that they have the right to be angry and upset and certainly have the right to report it and try to receive some justice.

  • Barrett

    Barrett

    December 17th, 2012 at 8:53 AM

    Hooray! It sounds like this program really made some headway. How can we get it implemented at our schools?

  • CMarie

    CMarie

    December 17th, 2012 at 9:03 AM

    We blame ourselves….that is why rape & molestation goes unreported. It took me months to report the date rapist who crushed up 3 blue Xanax in my drink on Christmas eve 2010 knowing I was prescribed 20 mgs of valuim also knowing I was depressed b/c I was involved in a Grandparent Rights Custody case being the 1st Christmas without my girls….all because I reported credible abuse I have in a court order. Then on New Years he told me what he did. I’m surprised I didn’t kill him that nite, but that was the last time I allowed him in my life. Another put something like ex-lax in my food because he could not accept just being my friend as he wanted more & I didn’t. My own father left me at a block party telling me, “Watch out for him! He gets beautiful women & I don’t know how.” Then he left me with him. I thank the Lord for sending my friends in rescuing me. I then felt sick & ran home ripping all my clothes off so hot throwing up for two day. I called my “dad” telling him, “I know how he gets women. He slips them mickeys.” My “dad” never did a thing, which was the last nail in our father/daughter coffin. He never protected me as a father should. If someone did that to my child or my granddaus, they would have gotten the beaten of their lives. So watch out who is oh so generous to buy you drinks(doesn’t have to be alcohol, and food. I always get bottles with the cap still on. I take it with me never leaving it behind so they can put a drug in it. Also, a bottle make for a great weapon. I never allow anyone to cook 4 me or purchase me fast food, etc. I hope I gave some good advise. May God bless us all protecting us from these sick predators.

  • mac

    mac

    December 17th, 2012 at 9:42 AM

    while it is understandable that some girls do not report the incident due to fear or being shaken as a result of it,I think it is imperative that they are made aware of this.Because it is not only about punishing the wrong doer but also helping the sufferer know that the one who hurt them is going to be taught a lesson.the tormentor walking away unscathed may by itself leave a mark on the minds of the victim.

  • gene

    gene

    December 18th, 2012 at 4:22 PM

    The reality is that we have to do a better job at teaching our young men and women to stand up for themselves. Who else is going to do it if they don’t do it for themselves? Programs like this are good, but they also need to support from parents at home too to make them really the most effective that they can be.

  • Counselling Psychology

    Counselling Psychology

    October 31st, 2013 at 4:56 AM

    At times like this the best people to rely on is the family of the victim. That’s the first to show support to the victim ,especially if it’s their daughter. Understanding,love and moral support is really needed this time. The victim may become withdrawn and may not be that trusting as before to anyone because of the incident, that’s the best time to open the notion of therapy to make her gain the confidence and trust that she lost. Parents also should be as comforting and understanding without judging their daughter. A parent’s love is the most comforting and best therapy of all.

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