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Can a Bystander Make a Difference in Sexual Assault Prevention?

Psychology Benefits Society

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By Amy Zavadil , PhD (Associate Dean for Equity and Title IX Coordinator at Barnard College)

Federal law now requires colleges and universities to provide bystander skills training to all new students and employees.  Teaching bystander skills to all students and employees in college or university settings is necessary, but not sufficient to shift culture.  The current focus is on campus sexual assault, but sexual assault happens outside of college communities.  Society beyond campuses also needs to recognize factors that contribute to sexual violence, and commit to bystander intervention to shift culture.

An extension of Latane and Darley’s (1970) work in understanding the bystander effect, why individuals may not be inclined to help in emergency situations, bystander intervention is an increasingly common prevention approach focused on the steps that lead to helping.  In response to campus…

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