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Dani Surento

Literature Review

Sexual violence is still very much a problem in todays society; especially so for women
on American college campuses. As a matter of fact, one in four female university students have
been victims of rape or attempted rape (Kingston 1). One of the reasons sexual violence is still
so prevalent on our college campuses is because colleges are not taking the right steps in
prevention methods. They are focusing too hard on teaching girls not to be raped instead of
ways to prevent a terrible situation before it occurs. There have been several studies that show
peer taught bystander programs can be the most effective way to teach about the dangers of
sexual violence.
In the past two decades alone the rate of rapes occurring has increased because of the way
women are portrayed as sexual objects in pop culture. The popular TV show Family Guy has
even gone has far as making actual jokes about rape (Kingston 1). It is still true that a woman is
at a greater risk for being a victim of sexual violence while attending college than in a prison.
Understanding why, how, and where a woman is at risk for these types of attacks is an important
start to help prevent it. The party, binge-drinking atmosphere that colleges provide is a perfect
cover-up for taking advantage of young woman who have minimal experience with alcohol and
are at a great risk for unwanted sexual advances (Eliza 1). Predators find comfort in joining
things like frats where binge drinking is encouraged. Someone who is a predator can use
drinking as an excuse for the attack (Kingston 1). We are still teaching women how to protect
themselves against being victimized by men instead of teaching men not to rape. There cannot

be any progress in dealing with sexual assault until men are brought into the equation and the
best way to do this is to introduce bystander peer taught programs (1).
A bystander is an individual that is witnessing a potentially dangerous situation and has to
make the decision to either act in a way that could help the situation, or hurt it (Amar,
Sutherland, and Kesler 1). In a bystander program, students are taught ways to intervene in a
situation in a way to help it. One example of this would be to not necessarily cause a scene
because that could make the situation worse, but possibly causing a diversion like spilling a drink
or telling the predator his car is getting towed. Other tactics like this can be taught through peer
education programs. Peer education is a cost-effective way to get the message out. Peers are
more credible for giving an anti-sexual violence message because they have similarities to the
other students. Students are also more likely to pay attention to their peers and find it easier to
talk about such a touchy subject with someone they see as an equal (MaMahon, Postmus,
Warrener and Koenick 1).
Studies find that one-dose sexual violence interventions can be effective if they are
carefully selected, delivered by peers, and able to evoke emotion such as the use of peer
education theater (MaMahon 1). In order for one of these programs to be successful they would
have to follow the guidelines of a five step model. The first step is to help bystanders be aware
of potentially violent events (Amar 2). The second and third steps are to identify that they
should intervene in these situations and decide to take responsibility for acting (2). The final
two steps include decide how to help and for participants to act by intervening to prevent
violence or to respond appropriately to survivors (2).
An example of an effective peer education program that decreased rape myth acceptance
and increased positive attitudes to intervene as a bystander is SCREAM, Students Challenging

Realities and Educating Against Myths (MaMahon 1). This program is seen by all incoming
freshmen by presenting it at a mandatory new student orientation. A group of 20-30
undergraduate volunteers sign up to be a part of the program and receive information at biweekly
trainings. The actual presentation is 75 minutes long and uses skit to portray real life incidents
and show opportunities to become an engaged bystander before, during, and after (1) the
Peer taught bystander education programs could be the answer to making thousands of
women feel safe on college campuses. It is important for universities to do the best they can in
order to make everyone safe. Sexual violence is a big part of our culture and the necessary steps
to stop it need to start being taken.

Amar, Angela Frederick, Melissa Sutherland, and Erin Kesler. "Evaluation of a Bystander
Education Program." Issues in Mental Health Nursing (ISSUES MENT HEALTH NURS),

2012 Dec; 33 (12): 851-7. (25 ref) 851-7 (2012): n. pag. Plattsburgh Fienburgh Library.
Web. 28 Sept. 2014.
Eliza, Gary. "The college Town of Missoula Mont. saw at least 80 reported rapes over three
years, earning it the name America's Rape Capital." Academic Search Alumni Edition 183
(2014): n. pag. Plattsburgh Fienburgh Library. Web. 28 Sept. 2014.
Kingston, Anne. "The Real Danger for Wome on Campus." Canadian Reference Centre 126.47
(2013): n. pag. Plattsburgh Fienburgh Library. Web. 28 Sept. 2014.
MaMahon, Sarah, Judy L. Postmus, Corinne Warrener, and Ruth Anne Koenick. "Utilizing Peer
Education Theater for the Primary Prevention oF Sexual Violence on College Campuses."
Journl of College Student Development 55 (2014): n. pag. Project Muse. Web. 29 Sept.