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

  • Katie M. EdwardsEmail author
  • Victoria L. Banyard
  • Stephanie N. Sessarego
  • Emily A. Waterman
  • Kimberly J. Mitchell
  • Hong Chang


This study evaluated the effectiveness of a seven-session, bystander-focused, classroom-delivered curriculum (i.e., Bringing in the Bystander—High School Curriculum [BITB-HSC]) in reducing rates of interpersonal violence among high school students. High schools (N = 26) were randomly assigned to the treatment or control condition. In classrooms in treatment schools, students (n = 1081) completed a baseline survey, participated in the BITB-HSC, and completed an immediate post-test, a short-term post-test (approx. 2 months after intervention), and a long-term post-test (approx. 1 year after intervention). Youth in control schools (n = 1322) completed surveys at similar time points but did not participate in the BITB-HSC. Participants were 15.8 years old on average and largely White (85.1%) and heterosexual (84.5%). 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.


Dating violence Relationship abuse Sexual assault Prevention Bystander Cluster randomized control trial High school students Youth 



We owe a great deal of gratitude to our school and community partners and to the 50+ research assistants and program facilitators. Without these agencies and individuals, this project would not have been possible.


Funding for this study was provided by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Grant no. R01-CEO02524. The findings and implications presented in this paper do not represent the official views of the CDC.

Compliance with Ethical Standards

All procedures performed in studies involving human participants were in accordance with the ethical standards of the institutional and/or national research committee and with the 1964 Helsinki declaration and its later amendments or comparable ethical standards.

Conflicts of Interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Informed Consent

Informed consent was obtained from all individual participants included in the study.

Supplementary material

11121_2019_1000_MOESM1_ESM.docx (17 kb)
ESM 1 (DOCX 14 kb)


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Copyright information

© Society for Prevention Research 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Katie M. Edwards
    • 1
    Email author
  • Victoria L. Banyard
    • 2
  • Stephanie N. Sessarego
    • 3
  • Emily A. Waterman
    • 3
  • Kimberly J. Mitchell
    • 4
  • Hong Chang
    • 5
  1. 1.Departments of Psychology and Prevention Innovations Research CenterUniversity of New HampshireDurhamUSA
  2. 2.Rutgers University, School of Social WorkNew BrunswickUSA
  3. 3.Department of PsychologyUniversity of New HampshireDurhamUSA
  4. 4.Departments of Psychology and Crimes against Children Research CenterDurhamUSA
  5. 5.Tufts Medical Center, Institute for Clinical Research and Health Policy StudiesBostonUSA

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