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Project LIVE: Rigorous Evaluation of the READY to Stand Curriculum as a Tool to Prevent the Commercial Sexual Exploitation of Children Among Racially and Ethnically Diverse Urban Youth

Research Team

Name Name

Principal Investigator: Katie M. Edwards

Co-Principal Investigators: Lorey Wheeler, Rochelle Dalla

Funding Information

Funding Agency: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)

Award Date: Sep 30, 2022

End Date: Sep 29, 2027


Although the commercial sexual exploitation of children is a public health crisis in the U.S., researchers know little about how to prevent it. 

The Set Me Free Project has developed the READY to Stand curriculum consisting of four, 45-minute modules implemented to high school students and school personnel. The curriculum provides students with psychoeducation on commercial exploitation of children, healthy relationship skills training, identification of safe people and resources, and programming components to enhance self-value and the valuing of others. 

This five-year project will enhance READY to Stand with two additional 45-minute modules that focus on bystander intervention training in situations of commercial exploitation of children and shifting school and community norms to be intolerant of all forms of violence, including commercial exploitation of children. Despite its potential for reducing commercial exploitation of children, the READY to Stand has never been evaluated. 

Project LIVE (Love, Inclusivity, Values, Education) is a multi-stakeholder collaboration that includes researchers, educators, practitioners and youth. Researchers will conduct both a process and rigorous outcome evaluation of the curriculum with an eye toward widespread dissemination to other communities in the U.S., if deemed effective. The implementation site includes five traditional three alternative high schools in Des Moines, Iowa.

After two years of planning, development and refinement — which will include a pilot trial of the curriculum with one traditional and one alternative high school — the curriculum will undergo a rigorous evaluation phase. Student participants at the remaining four traditional high schools and two alternative schools will be randomly assigned to the treatment or wait-list control groups. Students will complete baseline and 6-, 12- and 18-month follow-up surveys to test the hypothesis that participation in the program will lead to reductions in commercial exploitation of children perpetration, as well as reductions in commercial exploitation of children victimization and teen dating violence and sexual assault victimization and perpetration; and increases in bystander intervention in commercial exploitation of children situations. 

Psychosocial Development & Social-Emotional Learning

Researchers, educators, practitioners and youth will conduct both a process and rigorous outcome evaluation of the READY to Stand curriculum in Des Moines, Iowa, public schools.
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