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Member Research & Reports

Member Research & Reports

UNC Study: Training Boosts Bystander Confidence in Preventing Interpersonal Violence on Campus

Sexual assault, stalking, dating violence, and intimate partner violence (collectively termed interpersonal violence) are public health problems that affect 20 percent to 25 percent of female college students.

[Photo: Ms. Kei Alegría-Flores]

Currently, One Act, founded on The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill campus in 2010, is one of few university prevention-training programs that teach students how to intervene as bystanders in low- and high-risk interpersonal violence situations. Recent research found that the One Act program results in improvements in participant attitudes and behaviors related to date rape, as well as increasing participants’ confidence and willingness to help as bystanders of interpersonal violence.

Ms. Kei Alegría-Flores, doctoral student of health policy and management at the UNC-Chapel Hill Gillings School of Global Public Health, co-authored a paper that evaluates the One Act program. In addition to assessing One Act, the study compared it to an older program on the UNC campus called Helping Advocates for Violence Ending Now (HAVEN).

“Preventing Interpersonal Violence on College Campuses: The Effect of One Act Training on Bystander Intervention,” was published online May 22 by the Journal of Interpersonal Violence.

The research team, including co-authors Dr. Robert K. Pleasants, adjunct assistant professor of health behavior; Dr. Mark A. Weaver, research assistant professor of biostatistics, and Dr. Morris Weinberger, Vergil N. Slee Distinguished Professor of health policy and management, all with the Gillings School, and Ms. Kelli Raker, coordinator for Violence Prevention Programs at UNC-Chapel Hill Student Wellness, collected data over a two-year period, before and after study participants attended One Act and/or HAVEN trainings.

One Act trainings focus on a community-based approach to reducing interpersonal violence, namely, addressing the bystander effect. This effect occurs when individuals witness a high-risk or emergency situation but fail to help victims or potential victims because the presence of other bystanders diffuses responsibility.

Bystander education programs on college campuses attempt to teach community members (potential bystanders) safe and effective strategies for intervening in a positive way before, during and/or after potential interpersonal violence.

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