Peer Educators and Close Friends as Predictors of Male College Students’ Willingness to Prevent Rape

Peer Educators and Close Friends as Predictors of Male College Students’ Willingness to Prevent Rape

Stein, Jerrold L

Astin’s (1977, 1991, 1993) input-environment-outcome (I-E-O) model provided a conceptual framework for this study which measured 156 male college students’ willingness to prevent rape (outcome variable). Predictor variables included personal attitudes (input variable), perceptions of close friends’ attitudes toward rape and rape prevention (environment variable), as well as exposure to sexual assault peer educators (environment variable). A hierarchical multiple regression analysis revealed that both input and environment variables significantly influenced male college students’ willingness to prevent rape. Results from this study may help campus leaders develop programs and practices that engage men in rape prevention, which may subsequently reduce incidents of sexual violence on their campuses.

It has long been established from several research studies that the incidence and prevalence of rape on college campuses has been and remains a concern (Bureau of Justice Statistics, 2001; Koss, 1985; Koss & Dinero, 1989; Koss, Gidycz, & Wisniewski, 1987; Warshaw, 1987) and that the vast majority of incidents of sexual violence have involved female victims who were acquainted with a male assailant (Bureau of Justice Statistics, 1995; Koss et al.). Prior to these research studies, the original perspectives on rape portrayed rapists as being psychologically unstable and unfamiliar to their victims. This viewpoint also affected the manner in which rape prevention strategies were developed, placing undue emphasis on victims avoiding perpetration (Brownmiller, 1975; Schwartz & Dekeseredy, 1997; Warshaw).

In addition to prevention initiatives targeted at women reducing the risks of being raped, others risk-reduction efforts have often focused on attacks by strangers, better lighting, increased police presence, self-defense workshops, and walk services. According to many rape prevention experts, such efforts have missed the mark in having had any effect on confronting the true antecedents of sexual violence (Burt, 1980; Lonsway, 1996; Schwartz & Dekeseredy, 1997; Warshaw, 1987).

In her comprehensive research study examining the effectiveness of 18 college-based rape education programs, Lonsway (1996) recommended that rape prevention efforts should confront the underlying assumption that changing rape supportive ideologies will decrease the actual incidence of sexual aggression. She suggested that interventions should debunk the myths associated with rape, challenge the traditional views of socially constructed gender roles, and target men.

Authors of several recent studies have claimed that a socio-cultural perspective on this topic may help campus leaders respond to the issue of date rape (Berkowitz, 2001; Capraro, 1994; Davis & Little, 2002; Fabiano, Perkins, Berkowitz, Linkenbach, & Stark, 2003; Kilmartin, 2001; Thorne-Finch, 1992). Consistent with Lonsway’s (1996) findings, these researchers believed that more effective methods to combat sexual violence against women should include altering men’s attitudes towards women and reconceptualizing a restrictive male gender role where coercive sexuality is reinforced. Thus, in the sociocultural context, date rape prevention should be examined as a function of multiple influences and should shift responsibility for prevention from that of the victim to that of the potential assailant.

Even though a good portion of the research literature on the topic of date rape has focused on men’s role as perpetrators and potential rapists, much less attention has been directed towards examining male college students’ willingness to prevent sexual violence. Although national research studies have reported high levels of date rape incidents on college campuses, the vast majority of research studies have also revealed that most men do not commit rape. However, what is also apparent is that few men have been involved in preventing its occurrence. Determining the factors that engage men in rape prevention programming may lead to promising outcomes (Fabiano et al., 2003; Stein, 2003).

Astin’s Input-Environment-Outcome (I-E-O) Model

Alexander Astin (1977, 1991, 1993) developed the input-environment-outcome (I-E-O) model, which has been used extensively in higher education settings for nearly three decades. The model includes three major components-inputs, environments, and outcomes. Inputs (I) refer to the personal traits, attitudes, and characteristics students bring with them as they enter college. Environments (E) include the programs, strategies, interventions, social influences, and policies introduced to the student while they are in college. Outcomes (O) are the consequences and/or results that are derived through the influence of the input and environment variables.

For the purpose of this study, the input variable included the personal attitudes and behavioral intentions that were self-reported by respondents. Environment variables included both sexual assault peer educators to whom students were exposed during their first year in college and the perceptions they reported of their close friends’ attitudes and behavioral intentions regarding rape and rape prevention. The outcome variable, also referred to as the criterion variable, was male college students’ willingness to prevent rape. Astin’s I-E-O model provided a conceptual framework for this study.

Men’s Willingness to Prevent Rape (Outcome Variable)

Male college students’ willingness to prevent rape served as the criterion variable of this study. Identifying the factors that predict men’s willingness to prevent rape and the sexual coercion of women are important to college educators who are interested in designing effective rape prevention strategies on their campuses (Kilmartin, 2001). Several research studies have postulated that men’s willingness to participate in rape education can do much for its prevention (Berkowitz, 2001; Bruner, 2002; Duggan, 1998; Fabiano et al., 2003; Thorne-Finch, 1992). These studies have purported that changing men’s attitudes and involving male college students in sexual assault prevention may help reduce the prevalence and incidence of acquaintance rape.

Rape prevention experts have identified behavioral outcomes associated with men’s willingness to prevent sexual aggression. These measures have included: volunteering to participate in rape education programs or a rape crisis hotline and educating other men about gender and sexual assault (Berkowitz, 2001 ; Kilmartin, 2001 ; Schwartz & DeKeseredy, 1997; Thorne-Finch, 1992; Warshaw, 1987), participating in rallies and demonstrations supporting gender equity (Kilmartin; Thorne-Finch), and confronting peers who try taking advantage of women or by preventing a friend from purposely trying to get a woman drunk (Bruner, 2002; Lanier & Elliot, 1997).

Men’s Personal Attitudes toward Rape (Input Variables)

Research studies have consistently supported the perspective that harboring rape supportive attitudes and endorsing gender role stereotypes as being associated with sexual aggression and rape. Malamuth (1983) found that men’s acceptance of rape myths predicted actual hostility and violence toward women. Rape myths have also been linked to victim blaming, likelihood of sexual assault perpetration, violent and hostile behaviors towards women, and a history of sexual assault (Duggan, 1998).

Several research studies have also reported that men who were found to be more likely to commit rape harbored stereotypical myths about rape, viewed relationships with men and women as adversarial, were more blaming of rape victims, condoned violence against women, and/or held traditional sex-role attitudes (Berkowitz, 1992; Holcomb, Holcomb, Sondag & Williams, 1991; Koss, Leonard, Beezley & Oros, 1985; Lundenberg-Love, & Geffner, 1989; Muehlenhard & Limon, 1987; Warshaw, 1987). In light of the findings of these research studies, it is apparent that an inverse relationship exists between men who possess sexist beliefs and rape supportive attitudes and those who are willing to prevent rape.

Influential Peer Leaders and Referent Group Norms (Environment Variables)

Beyond the influence of personal attitudes (input variable), several scholars have studied the impact that social and environmental factors, such as influential peer leaders and the referent peer group, have on college students. Several research studies have noted that people tend to acquire the behaviors and attitudes of their particular reference group (Newcomb, 1943; Newcomb & Wilson, 1966; Sherif & Sherif, 1964; Wechsler, Nelson, Lee, Seibring, Lewis, et al., 2003). Others have suggested that a small group of influential peers can promote positive changes among their contemporaries (Kelly, St. Lawrence, Diaz, Stevenson, Hauth, et al., 1991; Newton & Newton, 2001).

The peer influence model, as proposed by Kelly et al. (1991), seeks to change behavior through the presence of key opinion leaders, popular peers who are specifically recruited and trained to serve as change advocates. Using the peer influence model, researchers found promising results promoting safer sex practices with female students (Kauth, Christoff, Sartor, & Sharp, 1993). Kauth et al. identified a small group of key opinion leaders and trained them to engage in dialogues about safer-sex practices (using condoms) with students who lived on the same floor in their residence hall. Results of their study yielded positive findings (increased condom use) and offered campus educators an approach to alter negative behaviors. Consistent with the theoretical underpinnings of the peer influence model, some college campuses have developed successful peer education programs to respond to other critical topics such as AIDS, alcohol and substance abuse, and birth control (Plante, 1997).

Berkowitz and Perkins (1986) also claimed that college students’ behavior is influenced by perceptions of their peer group and noted that even when their perceptions were incorrect, students acted accordingly, often adhering to the (mis)perceived normative behavior. They referred to this phenomenon as social norms theory. According to social norms theory, when people overestimate negative or underestimated positive attitudes and behaviors of their peers, they increase the likelihood of possessing these attitudes and/or exhibiting these behaviors as well.

Wechsler et al. (2003), however, criticized proponents of social norms theory, claiming that its major shortcoming lies in the assumption that an entire student body serves as the peer group. Instead, they professed that it is the immediate peer reference group (close friends) that serves as the more potent influence on individual behavior rather than the perceptions of subjective norms created by an imaginary, homogeneous peer group.

Although it is generally accepted and widely understood that peers affect other students and their values, it is a relatively new approach to design and implement peer interventions that intentionally influence students (Krogh, 1997). Peer leaders may be able to correct misperceptions that men have about rape and rape prevention and communicate and promote pro-social behaviors.

Purpose of the Study

The purpose of this study was to examine the extent to which personal attitudes (input variable), perceptions of close friends’ attitudes (environment variable), and exposure to peer educators (environment variable) predicts men’s willingness to prevent rape. The conceptual framework for this study was based on the theoretical model advanced by Alexander Astin (1977, 1991, 1993).

The research study was guided by two main research questions:

1. To what extent do personal attitudes and environmental variables, including exposure to sexual assault peer educators and perceptions of close friends’ attitudes toward rape and rape prevention, predict male college students’ willingness to prevent rape?

2. What differences, if any, exist between male college students’ personal attitudes toward rape and rape prevention and their perceptions of their close friends’ attitudes toward rape and rape prevention?

METHOD

Setting

The setting for this study was a large, public university in the Northeast. At the time of the study, the university’s total enrollment was 21,989 students, including 14,224 undergraduates. Male undergraduates made up 52% of the undergraduate student body. More than half, 53%, of the undergraduates and approximately 75% of the freshmen lived on campus. Ethnic data for all undergraduates at the time of the study revealed that 33% were Caucasian, 23% Asian, 9% African origin, and 8% Hispanic. Nearly 20% of the undergraduates did not report their ethnicity and 7% indicated “Other.” The university offered a diverse, multicultural setting.

The peer education program at the university where the study was conducted was created in 1987 largely in response to Koss’ (1985) national research study on the prevalence of sexual assault on college campuses. The program has served as an academic internship (six credits for two consecutive semesters) for approximately 16 years. Students, both men and women, have participated in weekly class meetings and have been trained to present a live interactive theater performance. These presentations have been conducted at fall orientation as well as in classrooms and residence hall settings throughout the year. Beyond the theatrical presentation, the peer educators maintain frequent contact with their peers on the campus, in both social and academic settings. Peer educators are encouraged to speak to and confront their peers who express rape supportive attitudes. Approximately eight male and eight female students are accepted into the program each year. At the time of the study, approximately 30 peer educators had either completed or were currently enrolled in the program.

Participants

Three hundred and twenty four male freshmen were administered the survey instrument during the second week of April 2003. All of the participants were between the ages of 18 and 21 and lived on campus in one of seven corridor style (sharing common bathroom and lounge) residence halls, which were located on the north side of the campus. Of the 324 students who were asked to complete the survey instrument, 156 surveys were returned that could be used for analysis, yielding a 52% return rate. Ethnic data reported by the study’s participants revealed that 38% of the respondents were Caucasian, 44% Asian, 5% African American, and 6% Hispanic. Eight percent (8%) of the respondents did not report their ethnicity. The ethnic data of the students participating in the study were consistent with the demographic profile of the freshmen class. Twenty of the 30 peer educators lived in the seven residence halls under investigation.

Procedure

All male freshmen residing in seven residence halls on the campus were administered the Attitudes Toward Rape and Rape Prevention Survey (ATRRPS) during the Spring 2003 semester. Students were requested to complete the survey and return it to a central location in their residence hall. In compliance with the university’s Committee on Research Involving Human Subjects, study participants were told prior to completing the survey that participation in the study was voluntary and that their responses would be kept anonymous. All participants were provided counseling resource information if they wished to seek support and/or if they were affected by the content of the survey instrument.

Survey Instrument

The ATRRPS (see Appendix) included seven scales and consisted of a total of 52 items. Six items measured the student’s familiarity and exposure to peer educators. Twenty-three items asked the participant to report his personal attitudes about rape and rape prevention, and 23 items measured their perceptions of their close friends’ attitudes about rape and rape prevention.

Three scales examined personal attitudes: (a) Willingness to Prevent Rape (WPR-SELF), which included 7 items and served as the criterion variable; (b) Rape Supportive Attitudes and Behaviors (RSAB-SELF), which included 11 items; and (c) Discomfort with Sexism (DWS-SELF), which included 5 items. Three scales examined the student’s perceptions of his close friends’ attitudes: (d) Willingness to Prevent Rape (WPR-PEER), which included 7 items; (e) Rape Supportive Attitudes and Behaviors (RSAB-PEER), which included 11 items; and (f) Discomfort with Sexism (DWSPEER), which included 5 items. Another scale, which comprised 6 items, measured the student’s (g) Exposure to Peer Educators (Exposure to PE).

All of the items in the ATRRPS used a seven-point Likert-type scale, ranging from 1 (strongly disagree) to 7 (strongly agree). Items that pertained to personal attitudes asked the participant to respond to items that included the pronouns “I” or “Me” (e.g., “IfI saw a man put a drug in a woman’s drink, I would tell her”). Items pertaining to the respondents’ perception of their close friends’ attitudes included the phrase “My close friends . . .” (e.g., “If my close friends saw a man put a drug in a woman’s drink, they would tell her”). The sentences for both self-reported personal attitudes and perceptions of close friends’ attitudes were worded as similar as possible so they could be compared later in the analysis.

Content validity was established for the ATRRPS using a panel of five expert jurors. All of the jurors had direct experience with rape education and prevention and/or providing victims’ services.

Construct validity was determined for the ATRRPS using a factor analysis procedure with the responses of the 156 respondents. The purpose of the factor analysis was to refine factors in order to make clearer distinctions among the theoretical domains. The dimensionality of the items of the ATRRPS was analyzed using the maximum likelihood factor analysis and a varimax rotation procedure with Kaiser normalization. Each factor had to realize at least four or more marker variables and have factor loadings of .30 or higher with eigenvalues of 1.0 or more. The factor analysis produced seven distinct factors, which was consistent with the proposed domains.

Variables and Analyses

The WPR-SELF scale, which served as the criterion variable of this study, measured men’s willingness to prevent sexual violence against women, to promote gender equity, and to intervene when a rape and/or sexual assault was apparent. Three items used in this scale were adopted from the Sexual Social Norms Inventory (SSNI; Bruner, 2002). Four items were adapted from the Commitment to Civic Responsibility factor, a subscale of the College Student Survey (Higher Education Research Institute, 1999). The WPR-PEER scale measured men’s perceptions of their close friends’ willingness to prevent rape. The higher the score reported for these scales, the more willing a participant was willing to or perceived that their close friends were willing to prevent rape, respectively.

The RSAB-SELF scale measured the attitudes, behavioral intentions, and myths that have been correlated with rape and sexual assault. This scale was adapted from Bruner’s (2002) SSNI, which was based on the College Date Rape Attitude and Behavior Survey (Lanier & Elliot, 1997). The RSAB-PEER scale measured men’s perceptions of their close friends’ attitudes toward rape. Higher scores on these scales meant that the respondent condemned or perceived that their close friends condemned rape supportive attitudes and behaviors, respectively.

The DWS-SELF scale was adapted from a subscale of the SSNI (Bruner, 2002). This scale measured male college students’ comfort level with sexist behaviors and objectifying language expressed by other men, items that have been associated with sexual coerciveness. The DWS-PEER scale measured men’s perceptions of their close friends discomfort with sexist language and/or behaviors. Higher scores on these scales indicated that the respondent was or perceived that their close friends were uncomfortable with sexist behavior and/or language, respectively.

The seventh scale, Exposure to PE, measured the degree of exposure and familiarity male college students reported having with the peer educators. Higher scores on this scale indicated that the student had greater exposure and was more familiar with Peer Educators.

Consistent with the I-E-O model, a threestep, hierarchical multiple regression analysis was performed to determine how well the independent variables predicted the criterion variable, WPR-SELF, and which of these variables served as the best predictors in determining the criterion variable.

Prior to conducting the regression analysis, raw composite scores were converted to z scores. Using SPSS 10.0, data analyses were conducted in order to evaluate assumptions. Given that multiple regression analysis is very sensitive to outliers, scores were examined in order to reduce skewness and to improve normality, linearity, and homoskedasticity of residuals. Results of the analysis led to the removal of 10 outliers that were 2.5 standard deviations either above or below the mean. To account for multi-collinearity, two of the predictor variables, RSAB-PEER and DWS-PEER, were not included in the regression analysis due to the high correlations with the matching variables (RSAB-SELF and DWS-SELF). RSAB-SELF and DWS-SELF were included in the regression analysis as they showed stronger correlations with the criterion variable, WPR-SELF. Table 1 displays the intercorrelations between the criterion variable and the original six predictor variables.

The three-step hierarchical regression analysis consisted of first entering the two input variables (RSAB-SELF and DWS-SELF) as a block. This was followed by entering one of the environment variables, Exposure to PE. The third step entered the other environment variable, WPR-PEER. The logic behind the sequencing of these variables was based upon Astin’s I-E-O model, where the input variable was entered first followed by the two environment variables. Exposure to PE was entered as the first environmental variable, as freshman have been introduced to these peer educators during orientation before classes commence and before they have a chance to develop friendships on the campus. Close friendships, on the other hand, evolve over time. Thus, WPR-PEER was entered into the regression equation as the second, distinctive environmental variable.

To determine if differences existed between male college students’ self reported attitudes toward rape and rape prevention to that of their perceptions of their close friends’ attitudes toward rape and rape prevention, three paired sample t tests were conducted.

RESULTS

Descriptive Analysis

The mean score for the WPR-SELF scale was 32.88 (SD = 6.31). Cronbach’s alpha of internal reliability for this scale was .67. The mean score for the WPR-PEER scale was 29.04 (SD = 7.09). Cronbach’s alpha of internal reliability for this scale was .73. Although the alpha coefficients for these two scales were not as high as desired, according to Bishop (2000), the magnitude of the coefficient is directly related to the number of items in the scale. He noted that shorter scales are acceptable with alpha coefficients in the high .60s or .70s

The RSAB-SELF scale had a mean score of 64.60 (SD = 10.02). Cronbach’s alpha of internal reliability for this scale was .85. The mean score for RSAB-PEER was 58.44 (SD= 12.84). Cronbach’s alpha of internal reliability for this scale was .92.

The mean score for the DWS-SELF scale was 19.01 (SD = 7.52). Cronbach’s alpha of internal reliability for this scale was .87. The mean score for the DWS-PEER scale was 16.96 (SD = 7.21). Cronbach’s alpha of internal reliability for this scale was .91. The mean score for the Exposure to PE scale was 15.83 (SD = 8.14). Cronbach’s alpha of internal reliability for the Exposure to PE scale was .84. Mean scores and standard deviations for all the study variables are reported in Table 1.

Regression Analysis

The two input variables, RSAB-SELF and DWS-SELF, were entered into the regression analysis first. This yielded a statistically significant effect for botli variables: RSAB-SELF, B = .28, p

R^sup 2^ change, R^sup 2^, Beta and F change scores are displayed in Table 2, which shows the results of the regression analysis. R^sup 2^ values are also shown for the combined sets of input and environment variables.

All of the independent variables were determined to be significant at the p

Differences Between Personal and Perceptions of Close Friends’ Attitudes

Results of the paired-sample t test revealed a statistically significant difference between personal attitudes towards men’s willingness to prevent rape (WPR-SELF; M= 32.31, SD = 6.90) and their perception of their close friends’ willingness to prevent rape (WPR-PEER; M =29.47, SD = 8.06), t(31) = 2.44, p

To determine if differences existed between personal attitudes toward rape supportive attitudes and behavior (RSAB-SELF) and the perception of peers’ rape supportive attitudes and behaviors (RSAB-PEER) a paired-sample t test was conducted. A statistically significant difference was found between personal attitudes towards rape supportive attitudes and behaviors (RSAB-SELF; M = 64.60, SD = 8.84) and perceptions of close friends’ attitudes toward rape supportive attitudes and behaviors (RSAB-PEER; M= 57.78, SD = 12.15), t(31) = 3.65, p

A paired-sample t test was also conducted to evaluate the difference between personal attitudes toward discomfort with sexism (DWS-SELF) and the perception of close friends’ discomfort with sexism (DWS-PEER). A statistically significant difference was not found between personal attitudes towards men’s discomfort with sexism (DWS-SELF; M = 19.01, SD = 7.52) and their perceptions of peers’ attitudes toward discomfort with sexism (DWS-PEER; M = 16.96, SD = 7.21), t(31) = 1.41, p

Findings from the t test analyses demonstrated that men consistently perceived that their close friends’ attitudes and behavioral intentions toward rape and rape prevention were significantly less pro-social than their own.

Limitations

This study had some limitations that raise concerns about the generalizability of the findings. First, the research was conducted at one campus, a public, research university in the Northeast with a very diverse population. A second limitation was that all of the participants were freshmen who lived on campus. Another limitation of the study was that the sexual assault peer education program was unique to the campus and had been in existence for over 15 years. In addition, the Willingness to Prevent Rape scales, both SELF and PEER, although within acceptable reliability limits, were not as strong as desired. Despite these limitations, the results of this study may offer college administrators ideas to design effective strategies that address the problem of acquaintance rape on their campuses.

DISCUSSION AND IMPLICATIONS

Findings of this study supported the conceptual model advanced by Astin (1977, 1991, 1993) in that both input and environment variables influenced the outcome variable, men’s willingness to prevent rape. Three major themes emerged from this study. The first theme was the potent impact of peers, both peer educators and close friends, in determining the outcome variable. Personal attitudes, peer educators, and perceptions of close friends all contributed significantly to predicting the criterion variable. The second theme that emerged was that men perceived that their peers’ willingness to prevent rape was significantly less positive than their own. They also believed that their peers possessed more rapesupportive attitudes than themselves. A third significant finding was that most men indicated a willingness to prevent rape.

Implications and Recommendations for Student Affairs Practitioners

Although caution must be exercised to not overly simplify the complexities of predicting human behavior, it should be safe to conclude that people, in general, are influenced by how they perceive or misperceive their social environment and that these perceptions influence what they believe and how they act. In light of the limitations of this research study, the following four recommendations are offered to college educators committed to reducing the incidence of sexual violence on their campuses.

1. Use Intentional and Pervasive Interventions to Promote Pro-Social Attitudes. Colleges can build positive, pro-social communities by conveying a clear message that men must participate in preventing sexual violence. Trained peer educators, particularly influential male role models, may be able to alter campus cultures that have allowed rape supportive attitudes and behaviors to fester. Students selected to participate as peer educators must be persuasive and influential. Furthermore, efforts to engage other men in rape education should follow principles of good practice suggested by rape prevention experts. Such strategies should include interactive presentations and workshops that allow for two-sided arguments, are non-confrontational, and challenge the traditional gender roles ascribed to men (Berkowitz, 2001; Kilmartin, 2001; Lonsway, 1996; Woods & Bower, 2001). As noted earlier, the peer educators had significant interaction with some of their peers outside of the theatrical presentation, and their exposure with their peers in these other settings seems to have had an impact on the attitudes and behavioral intentions of their contemporaries. The intentionality of the peer education intervention must not be understated. It offers an example of a deliberate attempt to alter the campus culture, which can affect attitudes and behavioral intentions in a pro-social direction.

2. Conduct Social Norms Research. Findings from this study showed that the environment variables, RSAB-PEER and Exposure to PE, contributed significantly in predicting male college students’ willingness to prevent rape. Consistent with social norms theory and substantiated by the regression analysis, it can be concluded that if men know the true norm-that most men are willing to prevent rape-their willingness to prevent rape would increase as well. However, men consistently perceived that their peers possessed less prosocial attitudes toward rape and rape prevention than themselves. Men need to know that their other male college students hold less rape-supportive attitudes and are more willing to prevent rape than they believe. Bruner (2002), along with other social norm advocates, have claimed that if men were made aware of the true and accurate normative attitudes and behaviors of their peers, they would alter their own behavior in a positive, pro-social direction.

Understanding what their peers really believe may promote a more pro-social norm for male college students, but more research should be conducted to study the impact that social norms campaigns have on addressing sexual violence on the college campus. Before such campaigns are launched more research must be conducted to determine whether such campaigns alter behavior and which peer group, if any, has the most potent impact to change behavior in a pro-social direction.

3. Emphasize Men’s Strengths, not Their Weaknesses. Findings reported in this study revealed that most men are willing to prevent rape. However, the thrust of many rape prevention workshops and many research studies on the topic of sexual assault have depicted men as being sexually aggressive, even though the results of most studies have reported that the majority of men do not commit rape or sexual violence. The portrayal of male college students as sexual predators not only contributes to a negative image of men, but it also helps perpetuate an inaccurate perception about them. Portraying men as allies and not adversaries may result in them being more fully engaged in seeking solutions. Results of this study revealed that many men are willing to prevent rape. Why they are willing to prevent rape remains unclear and requires further analysis. They may be interested in helping because they are chivalrous (want to protect women) or because they hold egalitarian ideologies. Whatever their reason, men need to be invited to participate in seeking remedies to sexual violence on the college campus. Making men feel defensive in workshops and discussion groups is antithetical to the desired outcome of increasing their willingness to prevent rape.

4. Train Men How to Intervene. Results of this study revealed that many men were willing to prevent rape. Of those who were willing, most indicated that they would confront situations when they believed a woman was in danger (being protective and chivalrous). Attention must be directed to understanding and addressing the masculine ideals held by men before designing strategies to engage them in rape prevention. Given that many men indicated their willingness to intervene, college educators should design programs that train them how to confront situations effectively.

CONCLUSION

The frequency and prevalence of date rape incidents on college campuses have remained a major concern in higher education for the last few decades, and although state and federal mandates require campuses to respond to this concern, few strategies have proven successful. Effective and intentional efforts, which respond to the underlying and situational factors that contribute to the sexual exploitation and coercion of women on the college campus, must be designed and implemented.

Although no consensus has been reached on how to effectively address the topic of rape on college campuses, it seems clear that educational and preventative strategies attack the underlying antecedents, ones that address male college students’ personal attitudes as well as the social and environmental factors that encourage sexual violence. Given that the peer group has been determined to be one of the most powerful sources of influence on college students, campus educators must consider designing prevention programs using influential peers, particularly male college students. Men’s active involvement in rape prevention might serve as a critical determinant in reducing the incidence of sexual assaults and rape on college campuses.

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Jerrold Stein is the Associate Vice President for Student Affairs and Dean of Students and a Clinical Assistant Professor in the Student-Community Development Specialization in the School of Social Welfare at Stony Brook University.

Correspondence concerning this article should be addressed to Jerrold Stein, Associate Vice President for Student Affairs and Dean of Students, 222 Student Activities Center, Stony Brook University, Stony Brook, NY 11794; Jerrold.Stein@stonybrook.edu

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