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Prevention Methods of Sexual Misconduct in Higher Education

Paper Type: Free Essay Subject: Education
Wordcount: 3885 words Published: 18th May 2020

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The Sexual Violence of Elimination Act (SaVE) was passed by the US Congress in 2013 amending the Clery ACT requiring all college campuses and universities that were federally funded to provide prevention and awareness programs that encompasses all of sexual assault, domestic violence, and same sex violence to its students and faculty staff. In order for college campuses and universities to meet federal mandates for protecting its students from sexual violence only those programs that show a rate of reduction in sexual assault should be made available.

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Campus safety has been a concern for all student and sexual assault has become one of the most dangerous concern that they must face.  Despite any and all prevention efforts of sexual assault it is still occurring on college campuses. Sexual assault still remains a major problem all over the world. Sexual assault brings with-it long-term effects, both psychologically and physically

Prevention Methods of Sexual Misconduct in Higher Education 


The sexual assault on college campuses has become much more prevalent today than ever and yet more often than not goes unreported. Statics shows us that 20% of women who attend college have been a victim of some form of sexual assault including rape Krakaucer, et al.’s (2007). (Sexual Assault in fact is the only violent crime that women are victims more of than that of men (U.S. Department of Justice). The aftermath associated with sexual assault comes with a significant amount of long-term mental and physical health issues, increasing the risk not only for depression, anxiety and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), but also high blood pressure and sleep loss (Moses, n.d.). A decrease in these long-term effects can become instrumental to the health care industry as well as to the women who have be affected by it (Kilpatrick & Resnick, 2007). The rate of victims in sexual assaults is higher in that of the college population than in the general population resulting in it being the main concern for implementing prevention programs (Mellins, 2017). Colleges and universities are required by law to make available programs to prevent sexual assault to its students. Nevertheless, there aren’t any bylaws to follow to asses how effective these programs are (Heppner, Humphrey, Hillenbrand-Gunn, & DeBord, 1995).

As of today, there hasn’t been much research that has been reviewed of the effectiveness of sexual assault prevention programs for students who attend colleges. That is mainly because the impact of sexual assault programs is hard to measure (Zapp, D. 2019) and that of the various definition of what sexual assault is. These programs are designed to bring awareness to students, change their behavior and their attitudes (Heppner et al., 1995) as well create a safer community for them. How colleges go about this varies and although the effectiveness of these program are mostly assessed through pretest methods, they are rarely successful only reducing female college students’ chances of being raped by 50 percent (Newman, A. 2017).

Literary Review1

I conducted a review to evaluate the efficiency of sexual assault programs on college campuses from online and library resources using terminology such as sexual assault programs, rape myths, gender roles and cultural support. A summary of information gathered from peer-reviewed journals and library databases follows.

 Over the year’s researches have not been successful in minimizing the attitudes toward sexual assault victims or the mythical beliefs about rape of their participants (Anderson & Whinston, 2005). Although there has been an increase in sexual assault research, there hasn’t been many researchers who have surveyed the relationship between the rate of those victimized and those who participated in the sexual assault prevention programs (Gidycz, C. A. et al., 2001). Reported statistic do shows discrepancies in those rates making it difficult to get accurate and or reliable information mainly due to the methods used.  According to Schewe (2007), measuring rates of victims is unlikely because of the lack of reporting, therefore not plausible in determining how efficient the programs are. Since the rates of victims are difficult to measure, other suppositional related forms or proximal measures are sometimes used to measure outcomes.

 The acceptance of the rape myth is the most common amongst the proximal measure (Shewe, 2007). Because misleading perceptions are usually connected to sexually offending men rape myths are common targets of sexual assault prevention programs (Burt, 1980). Even with a lack of evidence to support the relationship tying sexual assault rates in women to that of the rape myth, the acceptance of the rape myth is still considered the most common used measure in sexual assault literature for women (Schewe, 2007). It is believed by Lonsway & and Fitzgerald (1995) that the rape myth means different things for men and for women. The speculation is that men view the rape myth as justification for violence toward women and for women it means it validates their inviolability to rape. Rape myths are preserved by the misunderstanding of sexual assault and are believed by both men and women. To measure the belief in rape myth rates it is the Rape Myth Acceptance Scale (RMAS) that is most commonly (Burt, 1980: Lonsway & Fitzgerald (1994). Even though standard in assessing sexual assault prevention programs, the Rape Myth Acceptance Scale (RMAS) has been slammed for being outdated and not having adequate validation (Burt, 1980). A lot of the things in the Rape Myth Acceptance Scale can be viewed as insensitive when assessing beliefs about rape due to their questions such as this one “When women go around braless or wearing short skirts and tight tops, there are just asking for trouble” (Heppner et al., 1995; Lonsway & Fitzgerald, 1995). On average the scores for Rape Myth Acceptance scale (RMAS) are lower now than when the scale was used initially in 1980 suggesting that there is a shift in the cultures acceptance of the rape myth, or it’s incapacity to asses rape myths that modern society currently have (Bryant, Mealey, Herzog, & Rychwalski, 2001). There has been an increase in the level of awareness since 1980 suggesting that those who agree with statements from the Rape Myth Acceptance Scale and knowingly endorses them is inappropriate reducing the content validation (Milhausen et al., 2006). It was pointed out by Lonsway and Kothari (2001), that the desire for social likeness is most likely what influences the responses to the Rape Myth Acceptance Scale as opposed to other measure causing an inflation in success rates. The success rate may be inflated by researcher who use the Rape Myth Acceptance Scale because of awareness of the desire for social likeness by participants and validation of less rape myths than that of the Rape Myth Acceptance Scale (Burt, 1980).

 Lonsway & Fitzgerald (1995) questioned the validity of the Rape Myth Accpetance Scale and suggested that the measurements made by the Rape Myth Acceptance Scale confounded with the measures of aggression toward women. The authors conceived aggression toward women included stereotypes about women’s tendency for exploitation as well as the various types of violence that was accepted toward women and men. They suggested a reassessment of Burt’s model that would separate the attitudes of aggression toward women from the beliefs of rape myths. Thus, the re writing of the Rape Myth Acceptance Scale with language updates and untainted rape myths free of measures of aggression toward women and then given to college students. Gender differences were momentous. Rape myths were still accepted by women but did not aggression toward women. And men still accepted both the rape myths and aggression notably more than women did (Lonsway & Fitzgerald, 1995). They authors asserts that the differences in gender on measure of aggression toward women is significant because it supports their idea that men use their aggression toward women to justify rape, where women on the other hand wouldn’t accept aggression because it doesn’t distance them form victims.

 Notably, the Rape Myth Acceptance Scale has been the most used measurement tool for sexual assault studies across the board since it’s inception in 1980, generating a pelf or research that measures effectiveness and makes an argument maintaining the Rape Myth Acceptance Scale as the sexual assault prevention (Heppner, et al., 1995). Although it has been crucial to the sexual assault literature, questions have been altered by a plethora of researchers to suit their need making the comparison amongst different studies inaccurate.

 The sexual experience survey (SES) (Koss & Oros, 1982), originally developed to identify rape victims and rapist that were undetected, is used to evaluate the level of sexual victimization among those who participates in the survey. The survey employs specific question that are behavioral based to inquire about previous sexual experiences that consist of consensual, sexual assault and rape under Ohio Law (Kross, 1985). Victimization was defined on three levels, one being none, moderate (excluding rape) and severe (rape) ((Gidycz et al., 2001). Rape victims that don’t classify their experiences as rape but fall under the Ohio law which includes rape are identified by the Sexual Experience Survey (SES).

 The Sexual Experience Survey has been used among various US populations as well as populations abroad. To exhibit internal consistency with African American female adolescents (Cecil & Matson, 2006) and the majority of European American female college students (Koss & Gidycz, 1985) ranging from .74 – .80 it was utilized by Cronbach alpha. Also demonstrated was the reliability of high retest of the above college sample in addition to a group of German adolescence with agreements ranging from 93% – 95% % (Koss & Gidycz; Krahé, Reimer, Scheinberger-Olwig, & Fritsche, 1999). Cecil and Matson demonstrated validation by comparing outcomes of other forms related to sexual victimization such as depression as well as the validation of discrimination, as scores were unlinked with unrelated demographics. The Sexual Experience Survey is the most extensively used survey amongst peer reviewed psychological journals and sociological journals for determining the levels of victimization (Gylys & McNamara, 1996).

 There are a quite of few authors who have speculated that using self-report measurements is the result of overestimating the amount of sexual victimization among women ((Alksnis, Desmarais, Senn, and Hunter, 2000). Nevertheless, the Sexual Experience Survey (SES) was created with the purpose of capturing the suspected number of unreported victims. All in all, the Sexual Experience Survey Experience (SES) has been helpful in providing information about victims of different cultures and can be used for comparing the various groups of women who may or may not have reported their victimization, hence, not being available to the data already provided by authorities.

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 The use of proximal measure and the use of the Rape Myth Acceptance Survey for the measurement of sexual assault prevention program efficiency is because the goal of sexual assault researcher is to change attitudes (Burt, 1980).  Also, to measure actual rates of victimization among sexual assault prevention programs is the use of behavioral measures such as the Sexual Experience Survey (Koss & Oros, 1982).

 The elaboration likelihood model is what Heppner, et al., (1995) based their Sexual Assault prevention programs on. There are two types of processing attitudinal changes that are specified in this model. Relayed messages are retained through peripheral and central route processing. Individuals adjust their level of motivation through the peripheral route process depending on if the messages are significant to them. Individual who don’t feel that the message being viewed are significant to them they will engage mostly to the data processed by the peripheral route. The participants are engaged with messages through the central processing route, which is a higher-level process that seemingly creates an enduring change in attitudes. Notable gender differences were found in information processing styles by researchers. When attending a mixed gender Sexual Assault intervention program, it was found that the peripheral route processing was used mostly by men and the central processing route by women. Heppner, et al., (1995) compared the long-erm effectiveness of sexual assault prevention programs by dividing 258 college students, which consisted of 129 female and 129 males into two intervention groups and one controlled group. The interactive drama intervention was comprised of an unscripted heterosexual rape scene, which then called for participant to rewrite excluding the rape. The didactic video intervention included facts and statistic about rape and survivor stories which ended with a session of question and answers and the control group participated in a workshop for stress management. In both the interactive drama and didactic video interventions both the male and females were considerably not likely to validate rape myth than the controlled group post intervention. Yet the results were not long lived, as evidence shows during a 5 month follow up that no differences were found between the intervention or control group participants.

 Black et al., (2000) in a similar manner, measured 27 female and 11 male college students’ attitudes toward rape before and after viewing a performance of a rape scene. Both male and female validated remarkably less rape myths after seeing the performance than they did before seeing it. Still, overtime the effects decreased. The combined mean of genders score for the Rape Measure Acceptable Survey was 27.7 before the viewing of the play, dropped to 23.7 after the viewing of that play and after a 2-month assessment the score rose to 25.3 which isn’t that much of a difference from the original score. It is possible that the questions asked enticed participants to give answers that are socially accepted rather than true changes in their attitudes after seeing the performance and be apprehensive about doing so later. Black et al., (2000) also suggest that this implication of this information is that short-term attitudes about sexual assault are influenced by theatrical performances.

 Lonsway and Kothari (2001) did not use conventional pre-test, they instead randomly assigned participants to three intervention groups, one meeting at the begging of the academic school year and the other two met throughout the academic year at different times. The obligatory intervention was 2 hours long and included a didactic and multimedia presentation. The educational portion of the workshop included both men and women but was then divided during the interactive discussion portion. Raising awareness about rape and sexual assault resources on campuses was the goal of the intervention. Efforts were made to conceal the reasons for the research, so scenarios including rape and self-reporting questionnaires that included various types of misconduct were given to participants. The questionnaires were given to a classroom of students and were asked to indicate whether or not they had ever attended a required sexual assault prevention workshop. For those participants who had indeed participated in a sexual assault prevention workshop were then categorized by the length of time between the workshop and the administration of the measures. As a result, participants who had participated in the program were much more knowledgeable about sexual assault and validated much less myths about rape and were also less victim-blaming than those who did not attend a sexual assault prevention program. Maybe if a second intervention that addresses ideas that are much more advanced about sexual victimization would have a much larger impact on students (Lonsway & Kothari).

 Even with the success of this educational style program, there is still a lack of verifiable evidence that shows a negative relationship between knowledge of sexual assault and victimization. Thus, the reasonable assumption that links these two ideas remains popular in the research (Anderson & Whinston, 2005). Shewe (2007) review of 33 sexual assault programs found that the programs targeting awareness and or information are not effective and programs that presented information that were fact based had no effect on participants attitudes about rape nor did it have an effect on their sympathy for victims of rape (Shewe, 2002).

 Regardless of Shewe’s (2007) claim that measuring victimization rates are unquestionable, an attempt has been made by one research team to validate their Sexual Assault prevention program efficiency by the measuring the rates of victimization. A three-hour single-session interactive multi-media presentation was developed by Gidycz et al. (2001), for an all-female student population from two separate universities (Gidycz et al). The presentation had videos and role paly activities accompanied by discussions and handouts. In total there were 752 women, and of them, 395 were designated to a prevention group and the other 357 to a control group. Women who had no previous history of sexual victimization before participating in this study was not likely to be victimized. This was also the case at the 2nd month post-test and the 6th month post-test revealing that the history of sexual victimization is a risk factor for sexual victimization in the future. Sexual assault rated that were analyzed post-test firmly correlates with the severity of prior sexual victimization. Of the prevention group 30 percent were moderately victimized and 70 percent of the controlled group were revictimized both in the 2nd and 6th month periods that followed. Results from (Gidycz et al.), shows that the risk of future sexual victimization can be less if when participating in sexual assault prevention programs.

 An investigation of proximal measures suggested that the most common tool, the Rape Measure Acceptance Survey, used to measure could possibly be outdated and inappropriate for any culture in the future (Burt, 1980). The most often used proxy in studies that seek to modify behavior is behavioral intentions. Measured intentions are often used because human reaction is logically managed, and is an indication that individual intentions is a practical predictor of their own behavior (Shultz et al., 2000). Shewe (2002) stated that women are more willing to change their behavior and attitudes than men are even though mixed results for changes in behavior through proxy measurements. Comparing changes in behavior among different studies is difficult by the proximal measures. Some researchers measure the intent to avoid behavior that is promiscuous and other the intent to participate in sexual assault prevention.


 In Sexual Assualt literature, Caucasian participants are largely represented group because most research utilize college students ((Lonsway, 1996; Schewe, 2007). Many studies suggest highest rates of sexual victimization are white but there are researchers that have shown that other women from other ethnic groups have been victimized at a higher rate than expected (Kennedy & Gorzalka, 2002; Koss et al., 1987; Mills & Granoff, 1992). Most data are captured using the Sexual Experience Survey, which uses behavior specific questions that identifies sexual victims who was not previous identified ((Koss & Oros, 1982). Despite indicating unwanted sexual experiences, these women don’t classify their experiences as sexual assault and rarely report the incident to the police (Koss, 1985; Lee et al., 2005). Women from ethnocultural groups where victim blaming is high aren’t likely to recognize their own sexual victimization or even report to due to internalized cultural ideas about their responsibility to guard their sexuality (Benson et al., 1992).



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