Bullying, sexual violence, and dating violence among adolescents are all major public health problems that occur at relatively high rates and demand attention to alleviate the considerable suffering they cause. These problems share developmental correlates and evidence is emerging that bully perpetration and victimization is concurrently and longitudinally associated with sexual harassment, gender-based harassment, and teen dating violence involvement (Basile et al., 2009;Espelage et al., 2012). Despite the costs of bullying, the impact of prevention programs in the US has been disappointing, especially in middle-schools. Social-emotional learning (SEL) programs are reducing aggression in US schools (Durlak et al., 2011), in part, by helping students develop social and emotional skills to manage conflicts, but effects could be greater. Data presented in this application strongly suggest that to increase effects, school-based bullying prevention programs need to: 1) integrate evidence-based approaches that focus on different levels of influence (individual, peer, school), 2) focus on gender-based harassment and violence (i.e., sexual harassment and violence, dating violence, harassment and violence associated with sexual orientation and/or gender-role nonconformity) and 3) address a major driver of bullying and gender-based harassment and violence - traditional masculine ideology and homophobic name-calling. Thus, this application proposes a large-scale RCT comparing the Second Step (CfC, 2008) program to a gender-enhanced Second Step + Shifting Boundaries program (SB;Taylor et al., 2011). The SB program combines a classroom curriculum that addresses sexual harassment, gender-based harassment, and dating violence with whole-school strategies to decrease these outcomes. School-wide strategies include school protocols for responding to dating violence and sexual harassment and increased monitoring of "hot spots." Twenty-eight middle schools (grades 6 - 8) from two school districts in Illinois will be randomly assigned to either the Second Step only condition or the gender-enhanced Second Step condition (Second Step/SB). Two cohorts (6th and 7th graders) will complete baseline and follow-up surveys.
Study aims are to evaluate the differential efficacy of the Second Step: Student Success Through Prevention program (Second Step) versus a gender-enhanced Second Step program (Second Step/SB) on reducing bullying, sexual harassment, gender-based harassment, and teen dating violence;to assess the extent to which gender-enhanced Second Step versus Second Step results in greater increases in positive bystander intervention around bullying, sexual harassment, gender-based harassment, and teen dating violence;and to test the extent to which the intervention impacts peer-level attitudes toward bullying, sexual harassment, homophobic name-calling, and teen dating violence through its effect on peer social dynamics. This study is highly innovative and could have substantial public health impact by targeting bullying, dating violence, and sexual harassment.

Public Health Relevance

Bullying, sexual violence/harassment, and dating aggression have serious health consequences for youth, including significantly poorer mental and physical health, more trauma symptoms, and increased school avoidance. Sexual violence has been recognized to have dire and long lasting personal and public health consequences. Bullying, sexual violence, and dating violence appear to be related to the development of sexual violence across the lifespan. This study will evaluate the differential efficacy of the Second Step: Student Success Through Prevention program (Second Step) versus a gender-enhanced Second Step program (Second Step +) on reducing bullying, sexual harassment, gender-based harassment, and teen dating violence among a large sample of 6th and 7th graders across 28 Illinois middle schools;assess the extent to which gender-enhanced Second Step versus Second Step results in greater increases in positive bystander intervention around bullying, sexual harassment, gender-based harassment, and teen dating violence;test the extent to which the intervention impacts peer-level attitudes toward bullying, sexual harassment, homophobic name-calling, and teen dating violence through its effect on peer social dynamics;and assess whether intervention fidelity will moderate program effects on targeted outcomes. This study is highly innovative and could have substantial public health impact by targeting bullying, dating violence, and sexual harassment but by going further to include harassment and violence pertaining to sexual orientation and/or gender-role nonconformity. The study will be the first school-based RCT to specifically examine the efficacy of a gender-enhanced social-emotional learning middle school program with school- wide strategies against a social emotional learning program condition only.

Agency
National Institute of Health (NIH)
Type
Research Project (R01)
Project #
5R01CE002340-02
Application #
8733041
Study Section
Special Emphasis Panel (ZCE1)
Project Start
Project End
Budget Start
Budget End
Support Year
2
Fiscal Year
2014
Total Cost
Indirect Cost
Name
University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign
Department
Psychology
Type
Schools of Education
DUNS #
City
Champaign
State
IL
Country
United States
Zip Code
61820