Methods: A quasi-experimental, pre-post intervention design was used to compare scores from the intervention group with a non-participating matched control group. Participants (N=131) were students in grades seven and eight who received PEP Talk during their school term. In addition to demographics and a questionnaire on past experiences of peer victimization and perpetration (PPVP; developed by the research team), respondents completed the following standardized instruments: the Connor-Davidson Resilience Scale (CDRS), the Sexual Consent Scale-Revised (SCSR), the Acceptance of Dating Violence Scale (ADVS), and the Social Support Scale. At the end of the program, participants were asked to complete these same measures. Descriptive statistics were calculated, and paired sample t-tests were used to establish statistically significant changes in knowledge, attitudes, and behaviour resulting from the intervention.
Results: There were highly significant differences in the scores for the gender stereotyping subscale of the ADVS and two SCSR subscales: lack of perceived behavioural control and positive attitudes towards establishing consent (p<0.001). Other scales found to be significant include the CDRS and PPVP (p<0.05). The remaining scales were not found to result in significant changes. Effect sizes were calculated using Hedges’ correction, as multiple t-tests were run, and ranged from medium (d=0.48) to very large (d=1.7).
Conclusions and Implications: The results indicate that the PEP Talk program results in significant changes on some measures associated with its stated goals; specifically, gender stereotyping and attitudes towards establishing consent exhibited significant shifts. In addition, PPVP and lack of perceived behavioural control declined significantly, demonstrating that behavioural and attitudinal changes may be interrelated. The static PPVP also increased, which may point to the program enhancing awareness of what victimization and perpetration looks like; alternatively, as attrition was relatively high (41%), this finding could be interpreted as an increased likelihood of post-test completion among PPVP experienced participants. Ultimately, this study provides a compelling argument for continued research on prevention programs that include sexual consent teachings to advance adolescents’ self-efficacy and knowledge.