Bystander Initiative Effectiveness

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UWindsor aims to reduce the incidence of sexual assault on campus. Central to this effort is the UW Bystander Initiative, which offers sexual assault prevention workshops to undergraduate and first-year law students. The workshop we use is Bringing in the Bystander®. BITB® identifies everyone as a potential bystander with the ability to take action to prevent sexual assault.

BITB® is effective for both men and women and emphasizes the importance of working together to change social norms and behaviours on campus. Workshops are small (20-25 participants), offered separately to men and women, and led by students who have completed two full-semester BI courses where they learned about sexual assault and bystander behaviour and were trained to deliver BITB®.

Using well established social psychology measures and methodology, BI Team members, Drs Charlene Senn and Anne Forrest, found that students who participated in the 3-hour workshop were more willing and more prepared to take action when they identified a situation that could lead to sexual assault.

In their study of 827 UWindsor undergraduates that compared BITB® workshop participants with a control group, Senn and Forrest found that workshop participants were better able to identify ways to safely intervene to prevent sexual violence. Both male and female participants were more confident that they had the skills needed to intervene and reported fewer concerns about what others would think if they took action to support a friend or stranger. When participants had opportunities to take action, they reported proactive bystander behaviour, for example, by developing an intervention plan in case they witnessed a sexual assault or by raising sexual assault prevention in conversations with friends.