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Evaluation of a statewide initiative in the United States to prevent/reduce sexual harassment in schools

Mark D. Weist (University of Maryland School of Medicine, Baltimore, Maryland, USA)
Yaphet U. Bryant (University of Maryland School of Medicine, Baltimore, Maryland, USA)
Joyce Dantzler (Maryland Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, Baltimore, Maryland, USA)
Saran Martin (Maryland Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, Baltimore, Maryland, USA)
Marie D'Amico (Maryland Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, Baltimore, Maryland, USA)
Brian Griffith (Maryland State Department of Education, Baltimore, Maryland, USA)
Betsy Gallun (Prince Georges Public School System, Upper Marlboro, Maryland, USA)

Health Education

ISSN: 0965-4283

Article publication date: 20 February 2009

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to identify best practices in the implementation of school‐based sexual violence prevention education.

Design/methodology/approach

A three‐phase plan was implemented to evaluate the Sexual Harassment/Assault Prevention Project (SHAPP) in one state in the USA. First, a structured review of the prevention curricula of the participating communities was completed. Second, a survey of school personnel on best practices and challenges associated with their initiative was conducted. Third, school staff school climate surveys were administered, focus groups with teachers, students, and parents were conducted, and behavioral incident records were reviewed in two middle schools, one implementing SHAPP, and the other with no programming for sexual violence prevention.

Findings

Compared to the school with no programming, in the SHAPP school, staff reported better school climate and safety, and student participants reported more positive opinions about their school's prevention efforts.

Practical implications

The implementation of sexual harassment/sexual assault and bullying prevention programs may result in a more positive school climate, an increased sense of safety among students and staff, and a decrease in incidents of sexual harassment/assault and bullying.

Originality/value

The study suggested that building sexual harassment and assault prevention efforts from the platform of a school‐wide, evidence based, bullying prevention strategy offers many advantages.

Keywords

Citation

Weist, M.D., Bryant, Y.U., Dantzler, J., Martin, S., D'Amico, M., Griffith, B. and Gallun, B. (2009), "Evaluation of a statewide initiative in the United States to prevent/reduce sexual harassment in schools", Health Education, Vol. 109 No. 2, pp. 112-124. https://doi.org/10.1108/09654280910936576

Publisher

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Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2009, Emerald Group Publishing Limited