UNH Researchers Prove Educating
Bystanders Is Successful In Reducing Incidents Of Sexual Violence
Contact: Erika Mantz
UNH Media Relations
Feb. 8, 2005
Editors: The UNH researchers are available for comment. Contact
Victoria Banyard at (603) 862-2869 or firstname.lastname@example.org;
Mary Moynihan at (603) 862-5023 or email@example.com;
or Elizabethe Plante at (603) 498-2520.
DURHAM, N.H. – A rape prevention program that approaches
men and women as potential bystanders or witnesses as opposed to
men as perpetrators and women as victims is successful, according
to University of New Hampshire researchers who received a U.S. Department
of Justice grant to evaluate its effectiveness.
“Sexual violence is not just about the pathology of one person,”
says Victoria L. Banyard, associate professor of psychology. “It’s
about norms and behaviors. Everyone in the community has a role
to play. This program does not approach men as perpetrators and
women as victims, which helps to reduce defensiveness of both men
and women, and gives them a different way to think about their role.”
Banyard, Mary M. Moynihan, research associate professor of women’s
studies, and Elizabethe G. Plante, former director of the university’s
Sexual Harassment and Rape Prevention Program, collaborated on the
project — the first time this type of program has been evaluated
for its effectiveness — randomly assigning 389 undergraduates
to one of two groups that received education about sexual violence
and the role they could take as a bystander, or to a control group
that received no training.
Participants met in small groups with two peer leaders — one
male, one female — to explore attitudes about rape myths and
learn ways to practice intervening, including when it is not appropriate.
Moynihan stressed that participants were always reminded their safety
“Across all areas we saw improvement in the groups that received
the program, and not in the one that didn’t,” Banyard
said. “In addition, follow-up questionnaires two, four and
12 months after the program revealed that students retained the
According to Moynihan, many participants said they did not realize
that as a bystander there are a lot of situations in which they
could do something, like intervening at a party when someone has
had too much to drink. She said students also were surprised
to learn that only two percent of rape cases are false reports,
which is the same as for other felony crimes.
“As a community, we need to get past the ‘this doesn’t
apply to me’ attitude, and this program does,” Banyard
Banyard and Moynihan said the next step is to pilot the program
at UNH with a focus on Greek organizations and athletes through
a federal Violence Against Women grant with the UNH Police Department.