College Rape Prevention Program Proves a Rare Success

A trial published in the New England Journal of Medicine found a lowered risk of rape in college women who participated in an experimental sexual assault prevention program in Canada this past year.  This program addressed preventing sexual assault through a multifaceted approach, including defense skills, defining sexual boundaries, assessing and avoiding risky behavior like drugs and alcohol.

The study produced significant results: the risk of completed rape was lowered by 10 percent in the women who participated in the program, compared to 5 percent in the control group. Even more significant was the lowered risk of attempted rate in the resistance group–9.3%–compared to the 3.4% reduction in the control group.

This promising study highlighted key elements that are unique to other sexual assault prevention programs implemented at other colleges and universities at the moment. The program focused not only on education and prevention, but also on developing self-defense skills and increasing knowledge and awareness about acquaintance rape among other instances of sexual assault. However, there are arguments that the program focuses on helping potential victims avoid sexual assault rather than focusing on preventing perpetrators from attempting assault.

One important area that was focused on in this program was acquaintance rape and overcoming emotional barriers that victims of sexual violence face. Because the majority of sexual violence occurs between acquaintances, this program was successful because it focused on consent and helped college women understand how to maneuver social situations and use friends as bystanders.



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