Purpose: Sexual violence (SV) perpetration on college campuses is a serious and prevalent public health issue in the U.S. In response, incoming male freshmen are mandated to receive SV prevention programming. To provide a more effective response, however, we need to understand the SV behaviors of male freshmen before they arrive on campus and the associated factors that contribute to risk and that afford protection, areas that have received limited attention.
Methods: Male freshmen (N = 1,133) across 30 selected 4-year colleges and universities throughout the state of Georgia were recruited for a longitudinal study on SV perpetration. Levels of precollege SV as well as a range of covariates were assessed at baseline. Self-reported SV perpetrators were compared with nonperpetrators on demographic and hypothesized covariates deemed either risk or protective; then risk and protective models were analyzed using binary logistic regression.
Results: Weighted analyses revealed that 19.3% self-reported perpetrating SV before college. Before starting college, young men who reported more sexual media consumption, heavy episodic drinking, hypermasculine beliefs, and peers who endorsed SV were more likely to have a history of SV perpetration at college matriculation. Alternatively, men with more knowledge of effective sexual consent and stronger family functioning were less likely to arrive to college with an SV perpetration history.
Conclusions: A significant proportion of incoming male freshmen have perpetrated SV previously. Colleges and universities need to assess incoming freshmen for risk behaviors and negative beliefs and to offer both primary and secondary preventions to more effectively reduce further perpetration.
Keywords: College health; Male health; Sexual violence.
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