Preliminary results of a five-year study, led by Dr. Ann Coker, professor of epidemiology in the University of Kentucky College of Public Health and Endowed Faculty at the Center for Research on Violence Against Women, strongly suggest that the University’s “Green Dot” violence-prevention program is effective in reducing incidents of sexual violence. The study found that the program resulted in a greater than 50 percent reduction in the self-reported frequency of perpetration of sexual violence in schools where the Green Dot training was available, compared to a slight increase of these incidents in schools that did not offer the training.
The study also found a reduction in frequency of overall violence perpetration of greater than 30 percent at schools that have implemented the Green Dot program, compared to a small reduction in schools that do not have the program. This category included instances of sexual violence, sexual harassment, dating violence, and stalking.
The Green Dot strategy, developed at the University of Kentucky’s Violence Intervention and Prevention Center, teaches students how to identify a situation that could escalate into violence while mobilizing them with the skills and tools needed to intervene safely and effectively. The name “green dot” represents a behavior, attitude, word, or choice that promotes safety and communicates complete intolerance for violent behaviors. The program targets socially influential individuals within campus groups to complete a basic education program that equips them to incorporate prevention into their existing relationships and activities.
The study of the effectiveness of the Green Dot program in the prevention of violence on campus involved the anonymous surveying of students at Kentucky, as well as schools where Green Dot was not implemented, each spring in the years 2010 through 2014. The surveys asked students to measure both the frequency of violence that they personally experienced, termed victimization, and aggressive behaviors they used, termed perpetration. In total, over 80,000 surveys were completed. Over time, the reported frequency of violence increased slightly in schools where Green Dot was not in place, while it declined significantly on campuses where the strategy was utilized.
The results of the study provide strong evidence that the Green Dot program, when implemented by trained rape crisis staff, reduces sexual violence, according to Dr. Coker. “Finding strong evidence for this program’s ability to reduce violence is very important and could result in dramatic reductions in health care costs,” she stated.