The University of Windsor is currently expanding delivery of Bringing in the Bystander® peer-led sexual assault prevention workshops to faculties where there is a higher proportion of international students. In 2017-2018 we are conducting a preliminary study to determine whether adaptations are needed to make the program more relevant and accessible to international students. The current phase of the study involves an anonymous online survey and small focus group discussions.
Interdisciplinary bystander research tells us much about social barriers to intervention in emergencies and in sexual violence, as well as how to successfully overcome them (Latane and Darley 1968; Banyard, Moynihan, Eckstein and Plante 2012). Although BITB® is the most rigorously researched university-level prevention program of its kind, there is currently no disaggregated data on its effectiveness with students who speak English as a second language or with international students. The growing number of studies on bystander intervention in cultural contexts outside of North America suggest that some cultural factors may require bystander training to address different areas than the standard North American model (Zhong 2010; Lambert et al, 2012; Ayodele and Aderinto 2016; Hassan et al 2016; Huang, Hu and Mao 2016; Kamimura et al 2016; Xue et al 2016).
At the University of Windsor, our study acknowledges that international student bystanders may experience additional barriers to intervention such as a lack of familiarity with Canadian social norms and local or university services, a smaller personal support network, and perceived social and linguistic exclusion compared to domestic student bystanders. In a recent large-scale study on sexual assault at six universities in Quebec, international students reported some of the highest rates of sexual assault and harassment (ESSIMU 2016).
As we institutionalize and expand our offerings into programs where international students are more concentrated, it is critical to ensure that the current BITB® workshop is accessible and appropriate for all UWindsor students. In short, our research seeks to identify any barriers arising for international students in our current curriculum, in order to adapt it as needed to deliver an effective and inclusive program. It will directly support the quality of the student experience at the University, and it will also address a research gap on identity and sexual assault prevention at a key moment for this field in North America. Although promising research is beginning to emerge (Levine 2004; Baker et al 2014; Harris and Linder 2017), the field will benefit from further research and discussion.
This preliminary study is led by Dr. Emily Rosser, with Bystander Team members Dr. Charlene Senn, Dr. Anne Forrest and research assistant Hio Tong Kuan.
Findings will be posted at the conclusion of the project.