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|Posted on November 22, 2019 at 3:00 PM|
Preventing Sexual Violence Among Young People in the United States
HOW CDC’S RESEARCH ON BYSTANDER TRAINING HELPS PROTECT OUR FUTURE
Sexual violence is common. It is costly and devastating for individuals and communities. It is also preventable. CDC is leading the field by
championing research that addresses critical gaps and informs prevention efforts in our states and communities. One innovative approach—
empowering bystanders to prevent sexual violence—has gained increasing attention from public health and sexual violence prevention
professionals, educators, school administrators,
and policymakers. CDC’s Division of Violence Prevention is advancing knowledge in this area through multiple research initiatives that examine
how and when bystander training works to prevent sexual violence among young people.
UNDERSTANDING THE IMPACT OF SEXUAL VIOLENCE
CDC’s National Intimate Partner and Sexual Violence Survey and other sources show that:
• About 1 in 3 women and nearly 1 in 6 men experience some form of contact sexual violence* in their lifetime.
• 1 in 5 women will experience rape or attempted rape in their lifetime. • Sexual violence impacts young people.
For example, 41% of female rape victims report that they were first raped before age 18.
• Sexual violence can cause short- and long-term
physical and psychological problems, such as depression, anxiety, and suicidal thoughts.
• CDC estimates that rape costs more than
$122,000 per victim across their lifetime, one third of which is paid for by government sources such as the U.S. criminal justice system.
*Includes rape, being made to sexually penetrate someone else, sexual coercion, and unwanted sexual contact. Centers for Disease
Control and Prevention
National Center for Injury
Prevention and Control
CDC’s STOP SV Technical Package highlights several
key strategies that communities and states can use
to prioritize sexual violence prevention activities that
are based on the best available evidence.
IDENTIFYING EFFECTIVE PREVENTION
STRATEGIES AND PROGRAMS
CDC’s research has greatly increased our
understanding of what works to prevent sexual
violence. One key strategy identified by CDC for
preventing sexual violence focuses on training
individuals to be active bystanders.
Bystander training motivates and teaches young
• speak out against attitudes or behaviors that
• provide help when they see behavior that puts
others at risk; and
• take steps to safely and effectively intervene
Past research has indicated these are promising
ways to reduce risks for sexual violence among
college students. CDC’s recent research has
evaluated whether these programs also prevent
sexual violence in younger students.
• The Green Dot program trains young people to
intervene when they see attitudes and behaviors
that may put people at risk for violence. Although
initially developed and tested with college
students, a recent CDC-funded study found that
Green Dot reduces the likelihood that young
people in high school will commit sexual violence
or be victims. Current CDC-funded research is:
− testing strategies for using Green Dot as a
prevention strategy in entire communities;
− examining alternate methods of delivering
bystander interventions; and
− addressing the potential benefits of adding
substance abuse prevention
• Bringing in the Bystander teaches people how to
safely and effectively intervene in situations with
heightened risk of sexual violence. Prior research
found that the program improves knowledge
of, attitudes about, and effective responses to
sexual violence on college campuses. CDC is
funding a study to evaluate its use with high
• The Coaching Boys into Men program guides
coaches to talk with male athletes about healthy
relationships and their role in stopping violence
against females. A CDC-funded study found that
the program increases recognition of abusive
behaviors, gender-equitable attitudes, and
intentions to intervene in abusive situations. CDC
is currently evaluating whether Coaching Boys
into Men is also effective in middle schools.
CDC’s CONTINUED COMMITMENT TO
CDC will continue to invest in innovative research
that improves what we know about sexual violence
and how to prevent it, building on advances in
research and practice from prior work. CDC is
• Identifying factors that increase or reduce
perpetration of sexual violence among young
people and strategies that address those factors
at key developmental points.
• Finding effective, cost-efficient strategies
that work for people at highest risk.
• Continuing to examine the effects of prevention
approaches that are already in use in communities
but have not been formally evaluated
Sexual violence is a significant but preventable
public health problem. Continued evaluation
of practice-based prevention programs and
other promising approaches helps expand our
understanding of what works to prevent sexual
violence among young people and improve their
health and well-being throughout life.
Learn more about how CDC’s future research can
identify solutions to emerging violence issues: