New Approach to Sexual Assault Prevention Shows Promise in the Greek Community

New Approach to Sexual Assault Prevention Shows Promise in the Greek Community

For Immediate Release

New Approach to Sexual Assault Prevention Shows Promise in the Greek Community

INDIANAPOLIS, March 11, 2016 — A dozen national fraternities and sororities are now working with Prevention Culture to prevent sexual assault and dating violence, and their collective efforts are starting to make a difference.

The issues of sexual assault and abusive relationships among college students are widely publicized. While the Greek community is often referenced in unflattering ways, a dozen organizations have been quietly working to impact their collegiate members.

Currently, Zeta Tau Alpha, Sigma Nu, Delta Zeta, Alpha Xi Delta, Pi Beta Phi, Delta Sigma Phi, Phi Mu, Phi Gamma Delta, Kappa Alpha Order, Phi Kappa Tau, Alpha Tau Omega, and Sigma Kappa are working together and with Prevention Culture as they roll out their individual programs.

Aaron Boe is the founder of Prevention Culture, a consultancy that provides curriculum and training to prevent sexual assault and abusive relationships. Boe has been working with each of the twelve organizations to implement comprehensive programs that are beginning to show promising results.

The Social Strengths Workshop is a workshop Boe developed for college men that approaches these issues from a positive angle. A customized version of bystander intervention is one facet of the workshop making an impact. Initial data from Sigma Nu Fraternity found that of the 2,277 fraternity men who experienced the workshop delivered by trained Sigma Nu staff in the fall of 2015, 92 percent said that after the workshop they felt more confident that they could say something or do something if they saw a situation that looked potentially serious.

The workshop also addresses principles of healthy relationships. Following the workshop, 95 percent of the Sigma Nu members said they believed more of their brothers would recognize behaviors that would be wrong during an argument, beyond the obvious example of physical violence. Alpha Tau Omega has also delivered the workshop to their chapters throughout the fall, and Kappa Alpha Order has delivered it at each of their chapters, reaching over 7,500 college men.

Explaining the rationale for the program, Boe says, “You move toward a culture change when you can evolve the norms of that culture. For example, with effective programs we can more firmly set a higher standard of what is acceptable for how a person should handle themselves during an argument, which involves being above not only physical abuse, but also rising above verbal cruelty and emotional manipulation.”

Megan Foster, Associate Director of Education and Leadership for Alpha Xi Delta Women’s Fraternity, has led its efforts with Prevention Culture on program development. She shared that its staff and volunteers at multiple levels have stepped up to reach their members. Of student responses so far, 93 percent stated that because of the workshop they felt better prepared to support a friend who was a victim/survivor of abuse or sexual assault, and 92 percent stated that they could better recognize warning signs of an unhealthy or abusive relationship.

Zeta Tau Alpha has already reached more than half of their members with the chapter-level workshop. Of student responses so far, 95 percent feel more confident that they can recognize warning signs of an unhealthy or abusive relationship, and 97 percent feel like they will know what to say, and what to avoid saying, if a friend revealed that they had been sexually assaulted.

These national fraternities and sororities are now taking a comprehensive approach when it comes to educating their members, staff, and volunteers. Phi Gamma Delta, for example, is one of the organizations that has already implemented training for their volunteer chapter advisors.

“With the wide range of questions, conversations, and opinions regarding sexual misconduct on campus, we want to better equip our graduate volunteers to maximize their impact. Aaron Boe has been invaluable in helping Phi Gamma Delta deliver important concepts and information in an approachable manner,” says Rob Caudill, Director of Graduate Development for Phi Gamma Delta Fraternity.

Each organization is implementing aspects of the program in its own way. Various components being implemented include a workshop that trained staff delivers at the chapter level, training for national staff and chapter advisors to be better educated on the complex issues of sexual assault and abusive relationships, and an e-book used for ongoing education.

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ABOUT PREVENTION CULTURE

Founded in 2014, Indianapolis-based Prevention Culture works with college and university students and staff, and national Greek organization leaders to evolve prevention efforts regarding sexual assault and abuse in relationships.

New programs launching in 2016 by Prevention Culture involve a comprehensive program for athletic departments and student-athletes, and mental health education programs that are customized for the Greek community and student-athletes.

Originally motivated by the experience of a survivor close to him, Prevention Culture founder Aaron Boe set out over a decade ago to understand what would actually work to influence behavior and prevent harm before it occurs. As a result, Prevention Culture applies social psychology to target the points of greatest leverage for behavior change. Visit Prevention Culture online at preventionculture.com. Aaron Boe can be reached at aaron@preventionculture.com.

Aaron Boe is available to discuss issues such as:

  • Innovative ways to speak to young men about sexual assault and abusive relationships
  • The issue of talking about alcohol and sexual assault with both men and women, without feeding the error of victim-blaming
  • Strategic approaches to culture change, and how we can implement sustainable prevention programs
  • Why the issues of non-stranger sexual assault and partner violence are commonly misunderstood, and the implications for more effective prevention.