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Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR)

Engaging Teen Bystanders to Prevent Sexual Violence: A Web-based Approach

Project Period: 08/2010 - 02/2011
Application/Grant Number: 1R43-CE001688-01A1
Principal Investigator: BAIR, LINDA S
BT POST, INC.
193 Elizabeth Street
Atlanta, GA 30307
404-583-0250
l.bair@comcast.net

Abstract

DESCRIPTION (provided by applicant): Sexual violence perpetrated against women is a serious public health problem. Among female adolescents rates as high as 53% for some types of sexual violence have been reported. Moreover, young women are assaulted or raped most often by someone they know and often alcohol is a contributing factor. Thus, there is a need for effective and innovative primary prevention programs. The overall aim of Phase I of this proposed SBIR is to develop a prototype of an innovative product in the marketplace: an interactive, Web-based video program targeting high school teens, which emphasizes peer-to-peer monitoring and extends into new-media platforms (i.e. social media, cell phone and handheld technology). Engaging teens through new media applications allows aspects of the program to be viewed and shared inside and out of the classroom, and pushes the intervention onto platforms that can serve as an important catalyst for pro-social change among our target age group. The Phase I prototype will include the development of a teen oriented website with four key components drawn from the complete Phase II program: 1) "Her Story: It Couldn't Happen to Me." A short video of a teen victim's story; 2) "What Would You Do?" An interactive video module that teaches intervening skills through role play; 3) One episode of a serial drama in which a group of teens grapple with issues of alcohol and what to do when friends drink and place themselves at risk for sexual assault victimization or perpetration; 4) "You're Busted!" Digital texting icons that will be used by teens as an intervening tool. These intervening icons will be "product placed" in the video components of our prototype, and will be used by the teen actors. These succinct text messages/icons can be downloaded to phones or shared through social media for peer-to-peer interventions. Focus groups with a diverse group of teens, parents and teachers recruited from an urban high school located in the Southeast will inform and validate content for these key components. Subsequently, the prototype will be tested for its feasibility via additional focus groups. Main feasibility study outcomes will include teens', parents' and teachers' ratings of the prototype content along a range of measures (e.g., relevancy, effectiveness, usefulness, responsiveness, and perceived attitude and behavior change) as well as their interest in adopting the product. BT Post, Inc, a private business that provides video and web production for new-media applications will develop and produce this innovative, Web- based prototype. This project will demonstrate whether a Web-based teen sexual violence prevention program, shared in the social media context, holds the potential to be an effective and innovative strategy to combat teen sexual violence. Because it utilizes a Web-based mode of delivery and extends into new media platforms, it can also be disseminated widely for use in a variety of settings including schools, community-based organizations and juvenile justice systems.

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