Risk and protective factors for men’s sexual violence against women at higher education institutions: A systematic and meta-analytic review of the longitudinal evidence.

Author(s): 
Steele, B., Martin, M., Yakubovich, A., Humphreys, D.K., & Nye, E. (2020).
Source: 
Trauma, Violence, & Abuse, 1 -17.
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Summary: 

The findings of this study suggest that interventions targeting peer norms (e.g., bystander interventions) and early sexual violence prevention and consent interventions for high school and elementary school students can be effective in reducing and preventing sexual violence at HEIs.

Expanded Abstract: 

Sexual violence among higher education institution (HEI) students is a growing public health concern. Women attending HEIs face a higher risk of experiencing sexual violence when compared to men and when compared to women not attending HEIs (Bhochhibhoya et al., 2019; Degue et al., 2014; Gonzales et al., 2005; Zinzow & Thompson, 2015). A recent meta-analysis of research on sexual violence at HEIs in the United States estimates that over 20% of women have experienced unwanted sexual contact.

To date, there is little evidence on how to effectively prevent sexual violence among this demographic. This study is the first systematic review to meta-analyze (A meta-analysis is a statistical analysis that combines the results of multiple scientific studies) all available evidence for risk and protective factors of sexual violence perpetrated by men at HEIs. The research team searched four electronic academic databases and multiple gray literature sources (gray literature includes materials and research produced by organizations outside of the traditional commercial or academic publishing and distribution channels). The team screened studies using prespecified selection criteria for the sample (HEI students who identify as men), outcome (sexual violence perpetration against peers), and study design (quantitative and longitudinal). Longitudinal studies provide the most rigorous available evidence on risk and protective factors. They identified 16 studies and meta-analyzed eight different risk factors: alcohol consumption, hostility toward women, delinquency, fraternity membership, history of sexual violence perpetration, rape myth acceptance, age at first sex, and peer approval of sexual violence. They deemed included studies to have a varied risk of bias and the overall quality of evidence to range from moderate to high.

Importantly, this study found that history of sexual violence perpetration (perpetration prior to entering an HEI) emerged as the strongest predictor of sexual violence perpetration at HEIs, complicating the notion that HEI environments themselves foster a culture of sexual violence. Peer support for sexual violence predicted perpetration while individual rape-supporting beliefs did not. The findings suggest that interventions targeting peer norms (e.g., bystander interventions) and early sexual violence prevention and consent interventions for high school and elementary school students could be effective in reducing and preventing sexual violence at HEIs.

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