Sexual Assault Youth Education (SAYE) Program
(For more information, or to bring the SAYE Program to your school or organization, please contact Bailiner Cruz at 508-852-7600 x116 or bcruz@CentralMassPFC.org)
15% of Massachusetts high school females and 5% of high school males reported ever experiencing sexual contact against their will. 7% of the female and 4% of male Middle School students report experiencing dating violence. 1
Sexual minority youth (i.e., students who either identified as gay, lesbian, or bisexual or reported any same-sex sexual contact) were significantly more likely than other students to have experienced dating violence (35% vs. 8%) or sexual contact against their will (34% vs. 9%).2
• “13% of straight/heterosexual, 26% of gay/lesbian/homosexual, and 37% of bisexual adults reported ever being sexually assaulted.
• Gay/lesbian/homosexuals were more likely to report a lifetime experience of sexual assault than straight/heterosexuals.
• Bisexuals were more likely to report a lifetime experience of sexual assault than straight/heterosexuals”3
Many of these incidents occur within teen dating relationships. 15% of sexual assault and rape victims are under age 12. 29% are age 12-17. 44% are under age 18. 12- 34 are the highest risk years. Girls ages 16-19 are 4 times more likely than the general population to be victims of rape, attempted rape, or sexual assault. 4
57% of teens know someone who has been physically, sexually, or verbally abusive in a dating relationship. 45% of girls know a friend or peer who has been pressured into either intercourse or oral sex. Only 33% of teens who were in an abusive relationship ever told anyone about the abuse and the majority of parents of teen victims are unaware of the abuse. 5
- A victim of one incident of teen sexual abuse is likely to experience further sexual abuse.
- Teenagers between the ages of 16 and 19 are 3.5 times more likely than the general public to be victims of sexual abuse.
- 23% of all sexual offenders are under the age of 18
- Only about 31% of teen sexual abuse incidents are reported.
- Of men incarcerated for rape 80% of them reported that their victims were under the age of 18.
- When teen sexual abuse does occur, the overall probability that the perpetrator will be sent to prison is 16.3%.
- The average sentence for the perpetrator of a teen sexual abuse crime is 128 days. 6
According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, adolescents are more likely to experience sexually violent crimes than any other age group. Sexual violence, including sexual coercion and assault, can have a devastating impact on healthy psychological development. Teen dating violence has serious long-term consequences, both in itself and as a possible precursor to adult domestic violence.
Students who had experienced any dating violence were more likely to report:
– Considering suicide (35% vs. 10%)
– Attempting suicide (23% vs. 5%)
– Lifetime sexual intercourse (84% vs. 41%)
– Recent sexual intercourse (69% vs. 30%)
– Having been or gotten someone pregnant (18% vs. 3%)
– Drinking and driving (18% vs. 10%)
Students who had experienced any sexual contact against their will were more likely than students who hadn’t to report:
– Considering suicide (37% vs. 10%)
– Attempting suicide (24% vs. 4%)
– Lifetime sexual intercourse (72% vs. 43%)
– Recent sexual intercourse (61% vs. 31%)
– Having been or gotten someone pregnant (17% vs. 3%)
– Drinking and driving (19% vs. 10%) 1
93% of juvenile sexual assault victims know their attacker: 34.2% of attackers were family members; 58.7% were acquaintances; only 7% of the perpetrators were strangers to the victim.7
In addition, based on anecdotal information from our counselors and educators who work with teens on a daily basis, many teens experience reactions to sexual violence that is particular to their developmental stage. Our counselors have reported a large number of teen survivors who engage in sexually dangerous behavior including unprotected sex, group sex, and sexual behavior with different partners, often under the influence of alcohol or other drugs. We have also documented a high rate of teen pregnancy among sexual assault survivors while studies have shown that among teens who are pregnant or parenting, a high percentage have been sexually abused or assaulted. Finally, teen survivors demonstrate a high rate of involvement in abusive dating relationships, running away, and involvement with the sex industry in prostitution and/or pornography.
Prevention requires understanding the circumstances and factors that influence violence. The Sexual Assault Youth Education Program (SAYE) uses a four-level, social ecological model developed by the Center for Disease Control to better explain sexual violence and potential strategies for prevention. This model considers the complex interplay between individual, relationship, community, and societal factors, and allows us to address risk and protective factors from multiple domains. The SAYE program has incorporated the development of comprehensive prevention strategies through a continuum of activities that address all levels of the social ecological model. It is important that these activities are developmentally appropriate for the audience and are conducted at different life stages. This approach is more likely to prevent sexual violence across a lifetime, than any single intervention or policy change. The overall goal of our prevention efforts is to change social norms within communities to reduce the perpetration of sexual assault across the lifespan.
When dealing with the issue of sexual assault, adolescents need education/ prevention services that not only engage and maintain their interest, but that are also appropriate for their culture and developmental level. Therefore, the SAYE Program focuses on assuring that our services are designed to provide specialized services to specific populations including Middle School Aged, High School Aged, and College Aged Teens, Latino youth, GBLT youth, and rural youth. In addition, teens need educators/counselors who understand the developmental and life experiences that come into play
during the social and educational demands on teenagers.
Our activities are organized around three objectives:
1. Promotion of healthy, respectful, developmentally-appropriate relationships and sexuality based on the human rights of sexual autonomy and bodily integrity.
2. Promotion of community-wide responsibility for consistently supportive responses to survivors and for holding abusers accountable.
3. Sexual assault prevention community organizing and leadership utilizing culturally-appropriate strategies of community development, education, mobilization and professional training. As part of an overall strategy to reduce the incidence of sexual assault, activities reflect current principles of effective primary prevention strategies. Rather than focusing on limiting negative behavior and experiences, we focus on building community resiliency and protective factors within the general adolescent community and specific populations.
The role of the SAYE Program is to raise awareness of the incidence and myths about sexual assault, and to have a role in building and expanding the resiliency factors and strengths of communities. By working in positive ways toward shared goals with the community, we can have an impact on the root causes of sexual assault. We recognize that every community has resiliency factors that can be identified and enhanced. By enhancing these factors, we play a role in proactive prevention, by changing the community conditions that affect the incidence and impact of sexual assault. Resiliency factors can be based in societal institutions such as anti-violence programs in schools and effective policies for creating safe schools, practices within medical institutions that train personnel to screen adolescents for sexual assault and to handle disclosures, and systems of accountability for perpetrators. Other factors are based collectively in individuals such as community connections of family and friends, capacity to cope with difficult feelings and work toward recovery from violence. In our prevention work, the content of our presentations and community discussions are aimed at enhancing
resiliency factors in a variety of ways:
We enhance the general knowledge, and help individuals identify as agents for change.
We work to improve systems of reporting and coordination of services.
We enhance the network of support for Survivors.
We challenge the myths related to sexual violence.
We support the development of programs and activities that strengthen families, build community, and challenge isolation.
The target population for this program is individuals below the age of 22 with a primary focus on those under the age of 18 through the use of the MVP and Safe Dates curriculums. In addition to the use of the Safe Dates curriculum, specialized programming addresses the needs of linguistic and cultural minorities, the GBLT population, and youth from rural communities.
The Mentors in Violence Prevention (MVP) Model is a gender violence, bullying, and school violence prevention approach that encourages young men and women from all socioeconomic, racial and ethnic backgrounds to take on leadership roles in their schools and communities. The training is focused on an innovative “bystander” model that empowers each student to take an active role in promoting a positive school climate. The heart of the training consists of role-plays intended to allow students to construct and practice viable options in response to incidents of harassment, abuse, or violence before, during, or after the fact. Students learn that there is not simply “one way” to confront violence, but that each individual can learn valuable skills to build their personal resolve and to act when faced with difficult or threatening life situations.
Safe Dates is a curriculum designed to stop or prevent the initiation of emotional, physical, and sexual abuse on dates or between individuals involved in a dating relationship. Intended for male and female middle and high school students aged 12 to 18; the Safe Dates program can stand alone, but is used within a health education/family/general life skills curriculum. Because dating violence is often tied to substance abuse, Safe Dates is also used with drug and alcohol prevention and general violence prevention programming.
The Safe Dates program consists of five components: a nine-session curriculum, a play script, a poster contest, parent materials, and a teacher-training outline.
Program activities are designed to:
Change adolescent dating violence norms
Change adolescent gender role norms
Improve conflict resolution skills for dating relationships
Promote victim and perpetrator beliefs in the need for help and awareness of
community resources for dating violence
Promote help-seeking by victims and perpetrators
Improve peer help-giving skills
One of the critical skills taught by the Safe Dates curriculum is the skill of being able to identify abusive behavior and to seek help when abusive behavior occurs. Safe Dates teaches youth a number of skills that will help them experience positive, healthy dating relationships, including anger management, communication skills, problem-solving skills, and general positive social skills. The Safe Dates curriculum has sessions that focus on social and emotional issues—such as changing norms, what constitutes a healthy dating relationship, defining abusive behaviors, learning how to handle emotions
such as anger and jealousy, and learning positive communication skills.
The curriculum includes a 45-minute dating abuse prevention play written by high school drama students. It teaches students how to help their friends, exposes them to local statistics on dating abuse, and has them participate in group discussions led by the actors to discuss issues presented in the play. In addition, the SAYE Program trains peer leaders who then teach or assist in teaching the Safe Dates program.
The Safe Dates program sees the parents’ role as an important prevention tool when addressing dating abuse. The Safe Dates program includes a parent newsletter that gives parents ideas for addressing dating violence with their children. The curriculum also encourages schools to consider offering a parent education program around this topic or performing the dating abuse play for parents and other community members.
The SAYE Program Youth Counselor implementing the Safe Dates program has a general understanding of adolescent development and issues related to adolescent dating. In addition, the Counselor has experience leading large group discussions, facilitating role-plays, and organizing group debates. When needed, this person has access to outside resources for assistance in the implementation of this program. The Youth Counselor, in consultation with other Agency staff, engages in a continuous process of adapting the program to the specific student populations and needs.
REDUCTIONS IN NEGATIVE ATTITUDES/BEHAVIORS, IMPROVEMENTS IN
The SAYE Program evaluates the Safe Dates proscribed outcomes through the use of pre-test, post-test.
Safe Dates was initially evaluated using a pretest, posttest control group experimental design. 14 schools in one county in North Carolina with eighth and ninth grades were stratified by grade and matched on school size. One school from each matched pair was randomly assigned to treatment condition and the other to a control condition.
Baseline data were collected in schools from 81 percent of the eighth and ninth graders in the county (n = 1,886). The Safe Dates program was delivered in seven treatment schools. Follow-up data have been collected using self-administered questionnaires completed in schools 1 month, 1 year, 2 years, 3 years, and 4 years after the program activities were completed. Extensive process data also were collected on program fidelity.
REDUCTIONS IN NEGATIVE ATTITUDES/BEHAVIORS
At the 1-month, 1-year, 2-year, and 3-year follow-ups, adolescents who were exposed to Safe Dates in the eighth or ninth grade, as compared to those who were not, reported significantly less psychological, moderate physical, severe physical, and sexual dating violence perpetration and less moderate physical dating violence victimization. Additionally, there was a marginal program effect on sexual dating violence victimization at all four follow-up periods. Significant program effects on behaviors were maintained at the 4-year follow-up.
IMPROVEMENTS IN POSITIVE ATTITUDES/BEHAVIORS
Safe Dates also positively changed cognitive mediating variables that were based on program content, such as dating violence norms, gender stereotyping, conflict management skills, and awareness of community services for dating violence.
The Safe Dates Project was funded by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, from 1993 to 1999. The purpose of the Project was to complete the development of the Safe Dates program and to evaluate its efficacy in preventing and reducing dating violence victimization and perpetration in both the short-term (1-month post-intervention) and long-term (4 years post-intervention).
Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, U.S. Department of
Health and Human Services
Safe and Drug Free Schools Program, U.S. Department of Education
Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention, U.S. Department of Justice
American Academy of Pediatrics
American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology
1 Massachusetts Department of Education, Youth Behavioral Risk Survey, 2013
2 Massachusetts Department of Education, Youth Behavioral Risk Survey, 2005
3 A Health Profile of Massachusetts Adults by Sexual Orientation Identity: Results from the 2001-2006
Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System Surveys, K.J. Conron, ScD1, MPH, M.J. Mimiaga2,3, ScD,
MPH, S.J. Landers4,5, JD, MCP for the Massachusetts Department of Public Health, November 2008
4 U.S. Department of Justice. 2004 National Crime Victimization Survey. 2004.
5 Liz Claiborne Inc., Conducted by Teenage Research Unlimited, (February 2005).
6 Statistics – Sexual Violence – Pennsylvania Coalition Against Rape.
7 U.S. Bureau of Justice Statistics. 2000 Sexual Assault of Young Children as Reported to Law