By Pegah Maleki MCASA Program Intern
As statistics like “1 in 5 women and one in 16 men will be sexually assaulted during their time in college” and “90% of college sexual assault victims never report their assaults” (“Statistics about sexual violence” NSVRC) become increasingly well-known, it is unsurprising to see a surge of programs and policies aimed at decreasing sexual violence at colleges. Many efforts for sexual and dating violence prevention on college campuses work to engage men and boys to encourage male accountability, encourage healthy and respectful relationships, and promote an active bystander approach for intervention. When selecting programmatic elements and workshops, it is important to focus available resources on programs that are most likely to show positive results. Notably, one-time educational workshops have been shown to be a resounding failure, as to date no one-session programs have demonstrated any lasting positive results. Programs that include multiple components spread over a period of time have demonstrated superior results.
Effective evidence-based prevention programs include Green Dot and Bringing in the Bystander. These programs not only introduce topics of sexual and dating violence and build intervention skills, but also encourage a continuous learning and awareness that goes beyond the length of the training itself. Green Dot’s mission is reducing violence by promoting bystander intervention and community engagement. The Green Dot approach emphasizes that it is everyone’s responsibility to prevent and stop violence. Green Dot trains instructors for 28 hours, including knowledge on sexual and domestic violence, activities to promote skill building for intervention, small group discussions, and an overview of challenges individuals engaging in the intervention movement may face, certifying those individuals after the training to implement the Green Dot program on their own campus. A 4-year study of Green Dot on college campuses found that Green Dot campuses reported unwanted sex victimization at a rate that was on average 5.2% lower than the rates at comparison campuses without Green Dot programs. Overall, across the four years following the program, the rates of intimate partner violence victimization and perpetration were lower on the Green Dot campuses in contrast to the non-Green Dot comparison campuses.
Like Green Dot, Bringing in the Bystander is an education and training program that focuses on utilizing peer networks to change social norms and culture and spreading positive messages to combat dating and sexual violence. BITB is relatively new and encourages participants to identify violent behaviors, grow victim empathy, rehearse safe intervention practices, and promise to intervene not only after abuse has occurred, but also before it escalates. Students are taught skills to assist when they see behavior that puts others at risk, including speaking out against rape myths and sexist language, supporting victims, and intervening in potentially violent situations. Research shows BITB was effective at up to 4.5 months after its implementation.
Although more research is needed, the bystander approach to prevention is already gaining traction in the field because its focus on community is supported by positive data. These programs have shown to be effective, but they cannot be seen as the “fix-all” for sexual violence prevention work by schools and administration. The programs serve as great introductions and should be coupled with other efforts in order to maintain a violence-free environment, to promote an environment that has intolerance for abuse and violence, to discourage perpetrators, and to hold perpetrators accountable. These can be additional efforts such as: campaigns; regular faculty and staff trainings on sexual and dating violence; available and openly-publicized resources for survivors on campus, including access to confidential resources, counseling, and public awareness events; and clear and transparent disciplinary procedures for perpetrators.
Additional Resources for Colleges
Campus Sexual Assault Toolkit (AAUW): http://www.aauw.org/resource/campus-sexual-assault-tool-kit/
Stop Sexual Violence: A Sexual Violence Bystander Intervention Toolkit: https://www.health.ny.gov/publications/2040.pdf
Programs and Campagns:
Hollaback! Campaign; http://www.ihollaback.org/
The White Ribbon Campaign, http://www.whiteribbon.ca/
Green Dot, http://livethegreendot.com/
Bringing in the Bystander, http://cola.unh.edu/prevention-innovations/bystander
 DeGue, Sarah et. al “A systematic review of primary prevention strategies for sexual violence perpetration." Aggression and Violent Behavior 19, iss. 4 (2014). http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S1359178914000536.
 Coker, Ann et. al. “Multi-College Bystander Intervention Evaluation for Violence Prevention.” American Journal of Preventive Medicine 50, iss. 3: 295 – 302 (2016). http://www.ajpmonline.org/article/S0749-3797(15)00553-X/fulltext
 Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, “Sexual Violence: Prevention Strategies.”
 Lam., Molly. “6 Ways Faculty and Staff Can Fight Sexual Violence on Campus.” American Association of University Women. 2014. http://www.aauw.org/2014/04/14/fight-campus-sexual-violence/
 “Campus Rape: What Colleges Can Do.” Rape Treatment Center Santa Monica. 911rape.org