Effects of an Interactive School-Based Program for Preventing Adolescent Sexual Harassment: A Cluster-Randomized Controlled Evaluation Study

Gaby de Lijster - van Kampen*, Hanneke Felten, Gerjo Kok, Paul L. Kocken

*Corresponding author for this work

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Many adolescents experience sexual harassment and victims of sexual harassment have higher risks regarding well-being and health behaviors such as higher risks of suicidal thoughts, suicidal ideation and feeling unsafe at school. A peer-performed play and school lessons on preventing sexual harassment behavior were presented to secondary school students. We evaluated its effectiveness, using a cluster-randomized controlled design to assign schools to an experimental condition [n = 14 schools; 431 students (51 % female)] and a control condition [n = 11 schools; 384 students (51 % female)]. To measure the effects of the intervention at first post-test and 6-month follow-up, our multilevel analyses used a two-level random intercept model. Outcome measures were sexual harassment behaviors, behavioral determinants and distal factors influencing these behaviors. At post-test, students in the experimental group reported a reduced intention to commit sexual harassment behavior and higher self-efficacy in rejecting it. At post-test and follow-up there was a significant positive effect on social norms for rejecting sexual harassment behavior. At follow-up, sexual self-esteem was higher in students in the experimental group than in the control group. Effects on these determinants will benefit adolescents' future sexual behaviors. In combination, the play and lessons, possibly together with continued sexual health education and skills programs on social-emotional learning in subsequent school years, have potential for preventing sexual harassment behavior.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)874-886
JournalJournal of Youth and Adolescence
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - May 2016


  • Adolescents
  • Sexual harassment
  • Prevention
  • Evaluation
  • School-based program

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