Do Sexual Assault Prevention Programs on College Campuses Actually Work?

A new study by researchers at the University of California, Los Angeles, and the University of California, Santa Barbara, finds that sexual assault prevention training programs aimed at men who are a high risk of committing sexual assault, may not be working and may in fact have a “boomerang effect” that increases the odds that they will be an offender.

The authors state that “based on legal requirements and other considerations, there have been many well-meaning interventions intended to reduce sexual assault on university campuses throughout the U.S. There is no legal requirement, however, to evaluate the effectiveness of these programs, and few evaluations have been conducted.”

But their research shows that men who have a high level of sexist attitudes may be more likely to commit sexual assault after going through such programs. The authors state that these programs are likely to generate “hostility reactance” — one of the key causes of sexual violence. Men at high risk of sexual assault may perceive these interventions as threatening their individual freedom and act out against the message that is being conveyed in these programs. The authors note that “sexually aggressive men may also experience a specific form of reactance to antiviolence messages about sex because they assume they are entitled to have sex with women who refuse them.”

The study, “Sexual Assault Interventions May Be Doing More Harm Than Good With High-Risk Males, was published on the website of the journal Aggression and Violent Behavior. It may be accessed here.

Filed Under: Research/StudySexual Assault/Harassment


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