Introduction to the NEW Prevention
What is your answer to the question,
“What do you do for work?” ATSA’s
Prevention Committee hopes that your response is something like… “I work to
prevent sexual violence.” And if that
person asks for more information, you can let them know that you care deeply
about keeping communities, children and other vulnerable populations safe, so
you have chosen to work with adults, adolescents and/or children who abuse.
ATSA’s Prevention Committee has reached
out to the membership to uncover the unique collaborations that ATSA members
are forming in their communities and explore what ATSA members are doing to
prevent the first time perpetration of sexual violence. In this first interview, the conversation
created even deeper collaborations (e.g., Gwen Willis was invited to become a
part of the organization’s board of directors).
As you read the blogs in this prevention
series, we hope you will be as inspired as we have been by the work that ATSA
members are doing in the world. And if
you are doing primary prevention in your community – working to prevent first
time perpetration of sexual abuse – or know of an ATSA member who is doing this
important work, please let us know. You
can reach us through ATSA at email@example.com.
ATSA members truly do have a unique
perspective to offer.
Joan Tabachnick and Karen Baker [Co-chairs
of ATSA’s Prevention Committee]
Sex ‘n’ Respect: Prevention in New
“Consent is sexy, because it means both
people are into it.” That’s one of the
many messages being delivered to thousands of New Zealand young people through
Rape Prevention Education’s (RPE) sexual violence prevention programs. While the majority of ATSA members’ work
focuses on preventing repeat sexual violence, many members share a commitment
to preventing sexual abuse before an offence is perpetrated. This post is the first in a series from ATSA
Prevention Committee members to showcase different prevention initiatives
around the world.
I recently met with Dr. Kim McGregor,
Executive Director of RPE and some of her staff to learn more. RPE is an Auckland based organisation with
national prominence for prevention activities which include education and
health promotion programs as well as catchy print and online media
materials. Delivered by a team of
passionate professionals, many with a background in health promotion, theatre
and/or survivors themselves, Sex ‘n’ Respect and BodySafe are examples of
prevention in action in New Zealand.
BodySafe (ages 13 – 16) and Sex ‘n’
Respect (ages 16 – 18) comprise of a series of one-hour workshops delivered in
high schools which share the motto of working with young people to promote
respectful sexual relationships and prevent sexual violence. Both programs utilise a mixture of
discussion, stories, scenarios (e.g., about what is/isn’t sexual violence),
worksheets, art and videos, with the content tailored to developmental level.
BodySafe focuses on educating students
about consent using four steps: ask, listen, respect, reflect; and building
participants’ confidence to negotiate consent in sexual situations. In addition, BodySafe includes content about
how to support people after sexual violence has occurred, exploring healing
strategies, and developing bystander intervention skills. Elements particularly well received by
students include the use of role plays and scenarios. The following quotation comes from a focus
group ran as part of an external evaluation of BodySafe (Dickinson, Carroll, Kaiwai, & Gregory,
2010, p. 43):
“The thing that really stands out for me
was like the scenarios and we got to say what we thought of them, if it was
rape or just sex”
A post program survey of 1104 students
from ten schools found that 93% of participants were able to describe the legal
definition of consent and 85% were able to describe what constitutes sexual
violence. When asked if BodySafe had
changed the way students thought/acted in situations where they might be at
risk, 48% responded “very much” or “extremely” (vs. 45% “moderately” or “a
little” and 7% “not at all”; Dickinson et al., 2010).
Tailored towards senior high school
students, Sex ‘n’ Respect includes workshops on consent and alcohol, gender
stereotypes, and ethical action at parties – for example, identifying rights
and responsibilities at parties and risk and safety management in social
settings. While RPE is clear that they
do not support underage drinking and drug use, they recognize that both are
common among young people in New Zealand.
A pre/post program survey administered to 250 students as part of an
internal evaluation found decreases in rape supportive attitudes and
significantly more students in the “action” stage of change (based on the
Transtheoretical Model; see Prochaska, DiClemente, & Norcross, 1992)
following program participation (Rape Prevention Education, 2012).
Consistent with US statistics, in New
Zealand at least one in four females and one in eight males will experience
some form of sexual violence in their lifetime, many before the age of 16
(Fanslow, Robinson, Crengle, & Perese, 2007; Fleming et al., 2007; van
Roode, Dickson, Herbison, & Paul, 2009).
The high prevalence rates of sexual violence underscore an urgent need
to prioritize sexual violence prevention in relevant social, health, and
educational policy and ensure sufficient funding is allocated to the
development and dissemination of effective sexual violence primary prevention
activities. While “what works” research
in primary prevention of sexual violence is scarce, BodySafe and Sex ‘n’
Respect adhere well to principles of effective prevention programs identified
in other fields (see Nation et al., 2003).
Perhaps most evident was a focus on fostering healthy, positive
sexuality and relationships and attending to the developmental stages of
different year groups. For further
information see www.sexnrespect.co.nz and www.rpe.org.nz.
Gwenda M. Willis, Ph.D., PGDipClinPsyc
Dickinson, P., Carroll, P., Kaiwai, H., & Gregory, A.
(2010). BodySafe Programme Evaluation
. Auckland: Massey University.
Fanslow, J. L., Robinson, E. M., Crengle, S., & Perese,
L. (2007). Prevalence of child sexual abuse reported by a cross-sectional
sample of New Zealand women. Child Abuse
and Neglect, 31
, 935-945. doi:10.1016/j.chiabu.2007.02.009
Fleming, T., Watson, P., Robinson, E. M., Ameratunga, S.,
Dixon, R., Clark, T., & Crengle, S. (2007). Violence and New Zealand Young People: Findings of Youth2000 - A
National Secondary School Youth Health and Wellbeing Survey
. Auckland: The
University of Auckland.
Nation, M., Crusto, C., Wandersman, A., Kumpfer, K. L.,
Seybolt, D., Morrissey-Kane, E., & Davino, K. (2003). What works in
prevention: Principles of effective prevention programs. American Psychologist, 58
, 449-456. doi:10.1037/0003-066x.58.6-7.449
Prochaska, J. O., DiClemente, C. C., & Norcross, J. C.
(1992). In search of how people change: Applications to addictive behaviours. American Psychologist, 47
, 1102-1114. doi:10.1037/0003-066X.47.9.1102
Rape Prevention Education. (2012). Sex "n" Respect Parties Programme: Formative and Outcome
. Auckland: Rape Prevention Education.
van Roode, T., Dickson, N., Herbison, P., & Paul, C.
(2009). Child sexual abuse and persistence of risky sexual behaviors and
negative sexual outcomes over adulthood: Findings from a birth cohort. Child Abuse & Neglect, 33,