Literature review – research into the effectiveness of self defence programmes for girls as a sexual violence and family violence prevention strategy

The Ministry of Social Development has funded self defence classes for school-age girls since 2001, primarily through the Women’s Self Defence Network – Wāhine Toa. The Ministry commissioned two reports in 2014-16 looking at the effectiveness of self defence programmes for girls and women as a strategy for protection against violence.

Gray Matter Research Limited conducted an independent literature review of research and evaluations into the effectiveness of self defence programmes as a sexual violence and family violence prevention strategy for school-age girls. The report was commissioned to help ensure that Ministry funding decisions align with Community Investment outcomes and cross-government strategies on sexual violence and family violence.

The review was structured around three research questions:

  • What does the literature say about self defence classes for school-aged girls in terms of their effectiveness in preventing sexual and family violence?
  • What does the literature say about self defence classes for school-aged girls in terms of good practice guidance?
  • What does the literature say about self defence classes for specific age groups for school-aged girls, for those from CALD (culturally and linguistically diverse) backgrounds, and for those with disabilities?

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Commissioning agencies
Date of last publication
May 2016
Organisation conducting the research
Gray Matter Research

Methodology

The review covered New Zealand and international research and evaluations that reference the effectiveness of self defence programmes as part of strategies to prevent sexual violence and family violence. The review also considered published research and grey literature in print or digital form from 1995 – 2015.

Literature was sourced from:

  •  material supplied by the Ministry of Social Development (MSD) and a search of databases undertaken by staff at the MSD Information Centre, using keywords such as:

            - self defence; self defense; self-defen*

            - "self-defen* class*" AND "school" AND "girl*"

            - "self-defen* course*" AND "school" AND "girl*"

            - "self-defen* program*" AND "school" AND "girl*"

            - "good-pract*"; "best-pract*"; "effectiveness" ; "prevent*" ; "sexual violence"; "sexual harassment"; "family violence"; "domestic violence"

            - "cultural divers*"; "linguist* divers*"; "English as a second language" / "ESOL"; "disabilit*".

      o The databases used were:

           - Austrom (by Informit)

           - Campbell Collaboration

           - Contemporary Women’s Issues (Gale Cengage)

           - EBSCO Discovery Search

           - New Zealand National Library

           - OECD Commonwealth iLibrary

           - Scopus (by Elsevier)

           - Social Care Online (by the Social Care Institute for Excellence)

           - Social Work Reference Centre (by EBSCO)

           - SUPERU Hub (by the Social Policy Research and Evaluation Unit)

           - Google Scholar (by Google)

  • the Family Violence Clearing House
  • a search of the Internet
  • material held by the authors.

Note: North American literature tends to use the "self defense" spelling, rather than the English "self defence". This report prefers "self defence" but on occasions, especially in quotes and in the titles of articles, the alternative spelling appears. The report has also followed the Ministry’s style of having no hyphen between self and defence.

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