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Bystander Program Effectiveness: A Review of the Evidence in Educational Settings (2007–2018)

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Handbook of Sexual Assault and Sexual Assault Prevention

Abstract

Bystander interventions are now recognized as promising programming to reduce violence. Tenants of bystander programs include training those who may be “passive” bystanders to become engaged or “active” bystanders by learning to (1) recognize potentially violent or otherwise dangerous situations and (2) act to prevent harm or otherwise defuse the situation. Bystander actions may occur before, during or after a potentially dangerous situation. Here, the effectiveness of 12 bystander programs, reported in 23 publications between 2007 and 2017, were reviewed. Bystander programs are hypothesized to increase bystander efficacy, intentions, or behaviors, and reduce violence acceptance and violence perpetration and victimization. The majority of the bystander programs reviewed were implemented in college settings and used a rigorous experimental design. Receipt of bystander training was associated with an increase in bystander efficacy or intentions (9 of 10 programs reviewed) or bystander behaviors (seven of nine programs). Reductions in violence acceptance were noted in 7 of 11 programs reviewed. Only four programs provided data to evaluate bystander effectiveness to reduce violence; all four found reductions in either sexual violence, sexual harassment, or dating violence. This systematic review of findings from 12 different bystander programs supports the promising nature of bystander programs to increase reports of bystander behaviors. Additional research is needed to understand how and when bystander programming works to reduce violence acceptance and ultimately violence perpetration and victimization.

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Correspondence to Ann L. Coker .

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Bell, S.C., Coker, A.L., Clear, E.R. (2019). Bystander Program Effectiveness: A Review of the Evidence in Educational Settings (2007–2018). In: O’Donohue, W.T., Schewe, P.A. (eds) Handbook of Sexual Assault and Sexual Assault Prevention. Springer, Cham. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-030-23645-8_26

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