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Evaluation of a Bystander-Focused Interpersonal Violence Prevention Program with High School Students

NCJ Number
Prevention Science Volume: 20 Dated: 2019 Pages: 488-498
Katie M. Edwards; Victoria L. Banyard; Stephanie N. Sessarego; Emily A. Waterman; Kimberly J. Mitchell; Hong Chang
Date Published
11 pages

This article reports on a study that evaluated the effectiveness of a curriculum aimed at reducing rates of interpersonal violence among high school students by focusing on bystander intervention; the authors report on their research methodology and outcomes, and make recommendations for future research.


This study evaluated the effectiveness of a seven-session, bystander-focused, classroom-delivered curriculum, Bringing in the Bystander—High School Curriculum (BITB-HSC), in reducing rates of interpersonal violence among high school students. High schools were randomly assigned to the treatment or control condition. In classrooms in treatment schools, students completed a baseline survey; participated in the BITB-HSC; and completed an immediate post-test, a short-term post-test approximately two months after intervention, and a long-term post-test approximately one year after intervention. Youth in control schools completed surveys at similar time points but did not participate in the BITB-HSC. Participants were 15.8 years old on average, and mostly white and heterosexual. Students exposed to the BITB-HSC demonstrated significant short-term changes in victim empathy and bystander barriers/facilitators, and long-term changes in rape myths, media literacy, bystander readiness, and knowledge relative to youth in the control condition. Although the BITB-HSC had little long-term impact on actual bystander behavior, there were reductions in some forms of violence among students in the BITB-HSC condition relative to the control condition. Future research is needed to determine if, for whom, why, and in what contexts (e.g., classroom-based versus school-wide initiatives) bystander-focused violence prevention initiatives reduce violence. Publisher Abstract Provided