Bystander programs are central to efforts to address CSV prevention. In the U.S., they are mandated in the 2013 Campus Sexual Violence Elimination (Campus SaVE) Act. This practice note shares early exploration on one university campus in re-envisioning bystander programs by centering experiences, analyses, and activism of Black, Indigenous, and other women of color, students and youth, and lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, intersex, and gender non-conforming people (LGBTQI +).
We conducted a narrative review of the theoretical and empirical literature on bystander intervention programs, drew from documentary and visionary materials on alternative perspectives and practices, and reflected on research, policy, and practice challenges on our own campus.
Bystander programs are designed to: enhance community members’ awareness, skills, and intervention intentions; address all members of a community; and change behavior by countering widespread misperceptions about the prevalence and acceptability of sexual violence. All three design elements remain aspirational. Intersectional, anti-racist, gender-transformative, and anti-carceral approaches offer strategies for shifting community and social norms to promote community accountability and transformative justice.
CSV prevention may be enhanced by re-envisioning U.S. bystander intervention programs and encouraging systemic approaches that integrate intersectional, anti-racist, gender-transformative, and anti-carceral insights and initiatives to promote more inclusive and transformational measures to prevent CSV.