Bystander Intervention Promotes Safer Community Through Required Freshman Trainings

The Bystander Intervention Program focuses on early education this week as they begin to present required trainings to the entire freshman class.

Bystander Intervention seeks to improve BC’s sexual climate by educating students on the multiple roles that bystanders can play in preventing sexual violence on campus.

“Through education, we empower students to stand up against sexual violence and equip them with skills that enable them to do so in practical and tangible ways,” Megan O’Hara, Graduate Assistant for the Bystander Intervention Program, reported in response to queries posed by the Gavel.  “We have studied the effectiveness of Bystander over the last 4 years and we know that there is a correlation between students going through our program and an increased willingness to intervene.”

Photo Courtesy of Bystander Intervention Education - Boston College / Facebook

Photo Courtesy of Bystander Intervention Education - Boston College / Facebook

Hosted by the Women’s Center since 2008, the program addresses sexual violence and the use of disempowering language on campus, encouraging students to combat such violence and create a more supportive community.

“During bystander trainings, we discuss the importance of saying something when we hear language that minimizes the experience of survivors on our campus,” O’Hara continued.  “We also teach students about campus resources and how to respond sensitively if a friend discloses.”

Hoping to decrease the instances of sexual assault on campus, BC has made early sexual violence education an imperative.  As a result, all first-year students are required to attend the Bystander Intervention Program this Spring semester.  In addition to this training, all Freshmen students were required to complete HAVEN, an online sexual assault prevention course, before arriving at BC, and attend “Are You Getting the Signal?,” an educational performance that explored the various factors that can lead to sexual violence on campus, during Welcome Week.

By training the Freshman class in Bystander Intervention Education, BC resolves to create a stronger, safer community. 

“We hope to create a campus that feels safer for survivors,” O’Hara concluded.  “It's extremely important to us to help create an environment where survivors of assault feel supported and believed.”

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