USU Launches Bystander Intervention Program to Prevent Sexual Violence
Thursday, Sep. 21, 2017
A U.S. Department of Justice study of violent crime showed that third parties – or bystanders – were present during two-thirds of victimizations, including 29 percent of sexual assaults. During that time, bystanders prevented 1.2 million violent victimizations on average each year.
This fall, Utah State University launched a new program to engage bystanders in preventing sexual violence in the campus community. The university has already trained 25 staff, faculty and students to begin rolling out “Upstanding: Stepping Up to Prevent Violence in Utah” to the campus community.
“Research on sexual violence prevention shows that bystanders are a key part of any prevention strategy,” said Amanda DeRito, USU’s sexual misconduct information coordinator. “Bystander intervention programs have been shown to influence the culture of communities, and Upstanding is a perfect fit with our Aggies Think, Care, Act initiative, which is all about being an engaged bystander.”
The Utah Department of Health’s Violence and Injury Prevention Program recently developed and released the Upstanding program for use by communities, universities and middle and high schools within the state. The program uses the same evidence-informed approach as other well-known programs such as “GreenDot” and “Bringing in the Bystander,” with a focus on the impact bystanders can have on sexual violence prevention. USU will pilot the program as well as help develop a social marketing strategy to go with it.
Upstanding emphasizes practicing scenarios to become more prepared to safely step in when there is a threat of harm to another. The program provides background and skills in four main areas:
- Understanding the bystander effect and diffusion of responsibility in groups
- Challenging intrinsic biases about gender norms
- Intervention strategies and skills
- Personal safety during intervention
By working directly with the agency to pilot this program, USU is leveraging expertise within the state and developing a sustainable prevention program for its campus. USU will tailor the program to any group, and the university will roll out a social marketing campaign in spring 2018 to reinforce these concepts.
A condensed version of the program is available upon request from faculty and instructors for class groups. Upstanding trainings can be requested by any student, staff or faculty at www.upstander.usu.edu.
During spring semester 2017, the USU Prevention and Education Working Group provided a recommendation for sexual violence education on campus. It included a mandatory program for all incoming students, ongoing prevention programming targeting high-risk groups of students, and social marketing to reinforce messaging students received in both of those efforts.
Contact: Amanda DeRito, Amanda.firstname.lastname@example.org, 435-797-2759