Study: Sexual assault prevention program decreased rapes by 50%

According to a new study, a recent sexual assault prevention effort in Canada resulted in a 50 percent decrease in the number of rapes after just one year of intensive aggression awareness and protection classes provided to female students.

The study, published yesterday in the New England Journal of Medicine, followed 893 freshman women at the Canadian Universities of Calgary, Windsor, and Guelph between September 2011 and February 2013. Roughly half of the students participated in multi-hour sessions of lectures, problem-solving activities, and self-defense training to prepare them to resist sexual assault. The other half of the group was sent to a 15-minute presentation about assault and given brochures.

According to the LA Times, women who received 12 hours of training were 46 percent less likely to be raped and the program reduced the risk of attempted rape by 63 percent.

The results come less than a month before U.S. colleges must submit their annual sexual assault prevention reports to the Department of Education. The reports are required by the 2013 Campus Sexual Violence Elimination Act.

The LA Times claims that approximately 20 percent of women are victims of sexual assault while in college. Many assaults can be attributed to alcohol, lack of parental oversight, and macho behavior commonly encouraged on campus, the article says.

Kathleen C. Basile, an epidemiologist with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, wrote an editorial that accompanied the study, noting that its one flaw was potentially flipping the blame for sexual assault from the perpetrators and bystanders to the victims.

Charlene Y. Senn, a Canadian psychologist, designed the prevention program with the belief that young women’s awareness is often clouded by socialization. She created a curriculum in 2005 to help teach women how to recognize and respond to a sexual aggression by overcoming emotional barriers.

Follow the author of this article on Twitter: @BethanySalgado