Preventing and Responding to Sexual Misconduct: Preliminary Efficacy of a Peer-Led Bystander Training Program for Preventing Sexual Misconduct and Reducing Heavy Drinking Among Collegiate Athletes


Sexual misconduct occurs with disproportionate frequency on college campuses, and alcohol is involved in most sexual assaults. Importantly, collegiate athletes are at risk for both heavy drinking and sexual misconduct. Thus, the current study evaluated the efficacy of a novel, 2.5-hr, peer-facilitated, interactive, group-based bystander intervention program for student athletes that integrated information on sexual misconduct and risky drinking (Preventing and Responding to Sexual Misconduct [PRSM]). In all, 205 athletes completed 25-min surveys immediately before and after the training, and 76 (of 94 invited) completed a 3-month follow-up. Participating in the workshop was associated with significant increases in acknowledgment that sexual misconduct is a problem on campus, knowledge of where to get help if sexual misconduct occurs, knowledge about the college's procedures for addressing sexual misconduct, confidence that the college's procedures for addressing sexual misconduct are fair, bystander confidence, and engagement in a range of bystander activities. A significant decrease in rape myths also was observed. Participating in the workshop also produced changes in alcohol-related beliefs and behaviors. After participating in PRSM, athletes reported increased expectations that drinking alcohol can produce negative effects including aggression and acute intoxication. Participating in the workshop also was associated with significant reductions in drinking frequency, the total number of drinks consumed per month, the maximum drinks consumed in 24 hours, the frequency of binge-drinking episodes, and the experience of alcohol-related problems. In sum, the PRSM program evidenced preliminary efficacy as a program designed to increase prosocial bystander behavior and decrease high-risk drinking among collegiate athletes; changes in beliefs and behaviors consistent with reducing risk for sexual misconduct and problem drinking were observed after workshop participation. Future research should evaluate whether the PRSM program is effective for use with other high-risk populations like fraternity members or more diverse institutions of higher education including large universities.


SAGE Publications

Publication Date


Publication Title

Journal of Interpersonal Violence



Document Type




Sexual assault, College, Bystander intervention, Athlete, Alcohol