Abstract: Randomized Trial of a Gender Enhanced Middle School Violence Prevention Program: Impact on Sexual Violence & Bystander Intervention (Society for Prevention Research 24th Annual Meeting)

239 Randomized Trial of a Gender Enhanced Middle School Violence Prevention Program: Impact on Sexual Violence & Bystander Intervention

Wednesday, June 1, 2016
Pacific D/L (Hyatt Regency San Francisco)
* noted as presenting author
Dorothy Espelage, PhD, Professor, University of Illinois, Champaign, IL
Cassandra Colbert, BS, Doctoral Student, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Champaign, IL
Todd D Little, PhD, Director of IMMAP, Founder of Stats Camp, Professor, Texas Tech University, Lubbock, TX
Sexual harassment and dating violence among early adolescents are major public health problems that are associated with intimate partner violence in high school and beyond. Social-emotional learning (SEL) programs are reducing aggression in US schools (Durlak et al., 2011), in part, by helping students develop social and emotional skills to manage conflicts; however, the impact could be greater. In addition, many current approaches to reduce sexual harassment and other forms of gender-based aggression have focused on encouraging bystanders to intervene positively (Katz & Moore, 2013). 

This study addressed gaps in the literature by: 1) focusing on gender-based harassment and violence (i.e., sexual harassment and violence, dating violence, harassment and violence associated with sexual orientation and/or gender-role nonconformity), 2) assessing the extent to which bystanders intervene when they see gender-based aggression, and 3) addressing a major driver of bullying and gender-based harassment and violence – traditional masculine ideology and homophobic name-calling. A large-scale randomized clinical trial (RCT) comparing the Second Step (SS; CfC, 2008) social-emotional learning program to a gender-enhanced Second Step program (GE-SS; Espelage et al., 2015) was conducted. In the SS condition, teachers implemented weekly 6th and 7th grade lessons that focused on social emotional learning skills, including empathy, communication, bully prevention, and problem-solving skills. In the GE-SS condition, teachers completed two 45-minute trainings on gender, sexual orientation, and their responsibility to protect all youth. They also implemented lessons and activities designed to address bullying based on sexual orientation or gender non-conformity. Twenty-eight middle schools from three school districts in Illinois were randomly assigned to either the SS or GE-SS condition. Two cohorts (6th and 7thgraders) completed baseline and follow-up surveys across one year.

Multilevel analyses revealed significant intervention effects for the GE-SS over the SS condition with less bully perpetration, greater students/staff willingness to help in bullying situations, greater bystander intervention, and greater non-traditional masculinity at the 6th grade level, and bystander intervention when faced with gender-based aggressive situations. Significant effects were also found at the 7th grade level with the GE-SS condition showing greater school belonging, greater willingness to intervene, less fighting perpetration, greater bystander intervention, and greater non-traditional masculinity, and greater bystander intervention. Additional analyses will determine if these effects continue in the next waves of data collection, and implementation data will be evaluated as moderators of treatment efficacy. These findings suggest the importance of enhancing social-emotional learning with content that addresses gender-based