Problem on College Campuses
Sexual assault of college-age females has historically been a major issue on college campuses. The estimated number of occurrences is 20 to 25 percent over a four-year period. The risk is substantially higher during the first two years of college attendance.
Government entities and college campuses alike have acknowledged this growing issue. They have attempted to increase public awareness and have instituted some programs in an attempt to decrease the number of sexual assaults. However, many of these programs have not been assessed for effectiveness. For the few programs that have been assessed, little data has emerged or results have been disappointing. Some studies were so limited in scope as to not provide dependable figures.
A new small-group sexual assault resistant program was implemented with the intent to study its effect on reducing the number of sexual assault incidences within one year for first-year female students at three different universities. The program is called the Sexual Assault Resistance Education Trial.
The study focused on students between the ages of 17 and 24 who enrolled in one western Canada university and two central Canadian universities. It collected data between September 2011 and February 2013. Participants attended a set of intervention sessions which included games that provided information and lectures that facilitated discussions. Participants also practiced different activities to help the women assess the risk of sexual assault and develop strategies to reduce opportunities for assault.
The women in the study also completed two hours of self-defense training and other exercises that taught them resistance strategies. Women were also given information about safe sex.
In contrast to the women who were part of this study, a control group was also implemented. These individuals were given access to brochures about sexual assault. Research assistants informed members of the control group of the brochures and invited them to ask any questions that they had.
Authenticity of Data
Great means were taken to ensure the dependability of the data that was collected. The study was videorecorded. Additionally, the participants of the study completed computerized surveys at specific integrals. Participants provided confidential data regarding any experiences involving five classifications: completed rape, attempted rape, coercion, attempted coercion and nonconsensual sexual contact.
Experiences were compared between the women who participated in the resistance training and women who only received the brochures.
Data regarding 893 women was analyzed. The study authors found that the risk of completed rape was significantly lower over the one-year period among the participants compared with the rate of women who were only given brochures on sexual assault. Approximately 9.8 percent of women in the control group reported completed rape in comparison to 5.2 percent of the women participants who completed the resistance training. One of the program's early versions reduced the risk rape after only nine weeks of follow-up with the women in the study who had no prior history of rape. Additionally, the study showed sustained results.
The study also found a reduced risk of attempted rape, coercion and nonconsensual sexual contact that was significantly lower in comparison to the control group.