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Evaluating Practice-based Sexual Violence Primary Prevention Approaches from CDC's Rape Prevention

Research Team


Principal Investigator: Katie M. Edwards

Funding Information

Funding Agency: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)

Award Date: Sep 30, 2019

End Date: Sep 29, 2021


Although sexual violence (SV) among youth is a critical public health issue, few prevention initiatives have demonstrated long-term reductions to the problem. There is increasing recognition that SV prevention efforts may be most effective if youth are central to the development and implementation of such efforts. However, to date, there are no rigorously evaluated youth-led SV prevention efforts, nor data on how they can be best informed by research and knowledge on prevention best practices. And little is known about the actual process by which youth create prevention initiatives. 

Teen UP (TU) is a youth-led program in Rapid City, South Dakota, designed to address various public health issues, including awareness about SV.  This homegrown, positive youth development initiative is well-integrated in the community and provides the ideal opportunity to add multi-level, evidence-based SV prevention strategies. 

Researchers and SV prevention specialists will partner with Rape Prevention Education-funded agencies in South Dakota and work with community stakeholders — educators, peers, elders, youth and expert consultants — to enhance TU to include additional SV prevention strategies including a youth prevention summit. 

A Research and Programming Advisory Board (RPAB) will be formed, and data will be gathered through focus groups and individual interviews with stakeholders and key informants, including youth and adults from the community. A detailed, enhanced prevention toolkit will then be created. Researchers will document the process of using youth-adult partnerships to create and implement SV prevention across several levels of the ecological model using a variety of strategies. 

In addition to a detailed process evaluation, researchers will employ a single-case, multiple baseline design and a matched comparison design to determine the impact that engagement with and exposure to different TU enhancement components (and dosage) has on primary (i.e., reductions in SV), intermediary (e.g., perceptions of social norms, emotion regulation) and secondary (e.g., dating violence, suicidal thoughts) outcomes among middle and high school youth. Researchers will also examine the behavioral and attitudinal impact of the enhanced TU program on school personnel and parents of youth. 

If TU is deemed effective, the products (e.g., toolkits) that result from this project can be readily disseminated to communities across the U.S. for implementing and sustaining a theoretically grounded, multi-level, youth-led SV prevention initiative. 

Psychosocial Development & Social-Emotional Learning, Academic Intervention & Learning