Study Shows Bystander Intervention Training Reduces Sexual Violence in Schools

The results present a possible low-cost way schools can mitigate sexual violence.

A new study shows that bystander intervention training can make a major difference in the amount of sexual violence in high schools.

The study found large discrepancies in instances of sexual violence at schools with no training compared to schools where students took part in training on safe intervention in situations involving possible sexual violence or sexual coercion, reports the Lexington Herald Leader.

For the study, researchers from the University of Kentucky tracked sexual violence including sexual harassment, stalking and dating violence at 26 high schools in Kentucky over five years. Around ten percent of students in half of those schools received Green Dot training, an intervention technique developed at the university.

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Before the study began in 2009, approximately 18.5 percent of students at the high schools reported experiencing sexual violence. Researchers then conducted surveys again each spring between 2010 and 2014.

By year three, schools where students received intervention training had sexual violence rates 12 percent lower than students in schools that didn’t receive training. That translates to 120 fewer instances of sexual violence.

The discrepancy widened in year four, suggesting it takes multiple years for the training to make its biggest impact.

“We found that sexual violence can be prevented, this violence is not inevitable,” lead author Ann Coker said. “Adolescents and young adults can learn how to identify risky situations and safely intervene to prevent violence.”

The study also shows an opportunity for a cost-effective method of preventing sexual violence.

Joshua Bush, the lead author of the report’s cost analysis study, estimated that implementing Green Dot in schools would cost approximately $25,000 per institution.

The study, which was published last week in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine, was the largest controlled trial of bystander intervention programs focusing on sexual violence in high schools, according to A total of 89,707 surveys were conducted during the five year period.

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