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Bystander Intervention to Prevent Sexual Violence: Evaluation of the Theory of Planned Behavior and the Effectiveness of an Intervention Developed for College Students Public Deposited

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  • The prevalence of sexual violence among the college student population has become a significant public health issue. The real magnitude of the problem is unknown since most students do not report incidents of sexual violence. However, some studies have estimated that 1 in 5 students experience sexual violence while in college. Multiple efforts have been implemented to include more funding to investigate the drivers of sexual violence perpetration, experiences of victimization, and development of prevention efforts. The bystander intervention strategy for sexual violence prevention is a promising approach for changing the culture of violence on college campuses. The bystander model makes the community part of the solution by encouraging students to intervene in situations where they see a risk of violence. Although there have been some research developments in understanding bystander behaviors, there are gaps in the use of behavioral frameworks to predict bystander behaviors and evaluate bystander intervention programs. This study has two aims: (1) To examine if the theory of planned behavior (TPB) is a good framework for predicting bystander intervention behaviors to prevent sexual violence among college students; (2) To examine if a bystander intervention program to prevent sexual violence is effective in increasing bystander intervention behaviors, bystander positive attitudes and subjective norms about intervening, increasing bystander perceived behavioral control, decreasing rape myths, and increasing intentions to intervene. I used a quasi-experimental design with a comparison group and an intervention group. A convenience sample of students was invited to participate in the study. I utilized a modified version of the SABBQ questionnaire to measure the TPB proximal variables and bystander behaviors. The final study sample was of 870 participants who completed the pretest, and 302 who completed both the pretest and a three-month follow-up. To evaluate the first aim, I used a path analysis to model the TPB proximal variables’ influence on bystander behaviors. To evaluate the second aim, I used analysis of variance and regression analysis to explain group differences and associations between predictors of the Theory of Planned Behavior and bystander intervention behaviors. The results of this study provided evidence of a good model fit and showed that students’ attitudes towards intervening, perceived behavioral control, subjective norms, and intentions predict bystander behaviors. The model provides evidence of the role of attitudes in influencing intentions to intervene. Overall, the intervention did not have a significant effect when compared to the comparison group. The results of this study revealed that the intervention had some effects immediately post-intervention. Gender differences in TPB predictors at pre-intervention were also found. These results support the development of bystander intervention programs that address the characteristics of student subpopulations and indicate critical areas for future research. I discuss opportunities to intervene experienced by students, the role of alcohol, types of experiences where students intervene, and gender differences related to bystander behaviors.
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  • Cotto-Negron, Coral. (2019). Bystander Intervention to Prevent Sexual Violence: Evaluation of the Theory of Planned Behavior and the Effectiveness of an Intervention Developed for College Students. (Doctoral dissertation). Retrieved from Scholar Archive.
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