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Conducting a Web Survey about Sensitive Topics with a Random Sample of College Students

By: Published: 2014 | Product: SAGE Research Methods Cases Part 1
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For decades, studies on bystander intervention were primarily concerned with how a bystander, typically a stranger, might act during the commission of a crime or a health emergency, typical in an experimental setting. The purpose of this dissertation was to examine the factors associated with self-reported actual bystander interventions before, during and after situations of sexual victimization and intimate partner abuse on a college campus in the United States. As a collateral benefit, this project provided universities with data, collected in a sensitive matter, on student experiences with victimization and other issues that may negatively affect academic outcomes. In addition, this project served as a baseline study for a longitudinal study evaluating the impact of a bystander intervention education program called Green Dot. This case study describes the process of designing and implementing this dissertation research project in the context of three universities in diverse geographic regions within the United States. This case sheds light on the challenges associated with multisite studies, navigating bureaucracies and the necessary considerations for a survey on sensitive topics (e.g. victimization, intervention into dating and sexual violence, and attitudes and beliefs about victims, abuse and being a bystander).

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