Studies show male athletes are at increased risk for engaging in sexual misconduct. Drinking also increases the risk for perpetration of sexual violence. The current study tested a peer-led bystander training to reduce heavy drinking and prevent sexual misconduct among athletes at Oberlin College. Preventing and Responding to Sexual Misconduct (PRSM) was tested with 205 athletes before and after a 2.5 hour interactive, group-based workshop. Seventy-six participants also completed a follow-up survey three months later that assessed their knowledge and attitudes of sexual misconduct in addition to their alcohol use behavior and bystander activities. The workshop curriculum emphasized the students’ shared responsibility for campus safety while teaching concrete strategies for identifying and preventing sexual misconduct. It included content about good consent practices and the associations between heavy drinking and sexual violence.
The PRSM evaluation found preliminary evidence in support of the workshop’s efficacy to raise awareness about sexual misconduct, increase knowledge about how to respond when it happens, and increase confidence in one’s ability to intervene. Participants evidenced a change in their expectation that alcohol increases aggression and acute intoxication. Evidence of a decrease in rape myth endorsement was also noted. These findings maintained at the three month follow-up which also found an increase in bystander activities and a decrease in drinking behavior. Specifically, reductions were observed in drinking frequency, total drinks consumed in the past month, maximum drinks consumed in 24 hours, binge drinking frequency, and alcohol-related problems. The authors note with concern that—though it was reduced from baseline—participants’ average number of drinks consumed remained in the range for binge drinking. Study limitations include the possibility of socially desirable self-report bias and lack of generalizability from a small and mostly homogenous sample. Results are considered preliminary due to the absence of a control group.
Take Away: A brief and interactive peer-facilitated training of college athletes was found to have preliminary efficacy in increasing prosocial bystander activity and decreasing problematic drinking behaviors up to three months later.
Morean, M.E., Darling, N., Smit, J., DeFeis, J., Wergeles, M., Kurzer-Yashin, D. & Custer, K. (2018). Preventing and responding to sexual misconduct: Preliminary efficacy of a peer-led bystander training program for preventing sexual misconduct and reducing heavy drinking among collegiate athletes. Journal of Interpersonal Violence. [published online ahead of print June 8, 2018] doi.org/10.1177/0886260518777555