Empowering education professionals to raise young people’s awareness of sexual violence José Santos June 8, 2023

Empowering education professionals to raise young people’s awareness of sexual violence

With the aim of providing a balanced sexual education to youths, a consortium of eight partners across Europe is developing a comprehensive set of pedagogical toolkits and a complementary training platform for professionals working with young people. These resources cover key topics for potential adaptation with students, and are envisaged to support gender-based violence awareness and prevention among youths, especially university students.

Bystander awareness interventions as an inclusive approach to preventing sexual violence

In an effort to raise awareness and prevent sexual violence among young people, educational programmes have typically focussed on approaching the topic from the perspective of perpetration prevention (Salazar et al., 2014, 2019), or victimisation prevention (Gidycz et al., 2015; Nieder et al., 2020; Senn et al., 2017, 2021, 2022), targeting the respective gender-stereotyped roles for males and females.

The recent emergence of bystander interventions, however, tackles the issue by engaging all members of the community, irrespective of gender, in the fight against sexual violence, empowering them to hold others accountable and safely intervene to support (Banyard et al., 2004).

Such programmes often identify the “6 D’s” of bystander interventions, expanded from Dr. Dorothy Edwards’ pioneering Green Dot Bystander Intervention Program at Kentucky University in 2006, which promotes various ways individuals can be proactive, instead of passive, when witnessing instances of sexual harassment of violence. These include:

1. Direct (Address the problem directly);

2. Distract (Interrupt the situation);

3. Delegate (Involve others, preferably an authority figure);

4. Delay (follow-up and check-in with the target);

5. Document (if you can’t intervene, take photos or videos); and

6. Defend (if someone else intervenes, help them).

 This type of intervention has been found to be effective, not only in increasing people’s intentions to help, but also improving  their actual bystander behaviours to be more proactive (Jouriles et al., 2020; Coker et al., 2011; Sargent et al., 2017).


Developing bystander intervention training resources for educational contexts

In this context, the PREVEX – Preventing Emotional and Sexual Abuse Among Young People – project emerges as a catalyst for change. The initiative addresses the pressing need to update academic knowledge on the criminal, and social dimensions of sexual deviance and promote sexual education that stimulates awareness and preventive behavioural patterns.

The project is creating a platform containing information and training resources aimed at professionals in educational settings and other fields working directly with young people. By equipping professionals and youth with tools to combat sexual violence, PREVEX aims to foster a protective culture where individuals are able to identify sexual violence and intervene or prevent it.

These developed resources include guidance on the implementation of Bystander Awareness Interventions that were presented to an audience of students, teaching professionals, and experts at the project’s first dissemination event.

The PREVEX project officially held its first dissemination event on the 8th of June, 2023. The event was hosted by the project partners from the University Rey Juan Carlos in Madrid (Spain), and broadcasted online for international participants.

The event provided a stage to share the project’s progress and several of the resources developed for the PREVEX E-learning platform. These innovative and interactive resources contain an extensive variety of pedagogical tools for educators and professionals working with youths, which can be easily adapted to teach students in a workshop format.

For example, the PREVEX Educator Toolkits, presented by the partners from the University Rey Juan Carlos, are multilingual pedagogical kits with videos to open the dialogue and to launch a debate and support tools to approach and stimulate young people to reflect on these issues. The materials broach a broad range of topics, namely:

– Sexual orientation and gender identity

– Relationship to the body: social, sexual and reproductive health

– Understanding sexual consent

– Romantic relationships: the first time

 Intimate Partner Violence

– Sexual offences and paedophilia

– Media and stereotypes of gender and sexual practices

The developed materials include an e-learning course on the different processes of emotional and sexual education. IPS_Innovative Prison Systems partners, presented materials taken from the e-learning’s 3rd module, ‘Preventing Sexual Violence: What can I do?’, providing facilitator guidance specifically on implementing Bystander Awareness Interventions.

A variety of tips were shared for enhancing youth awareness on the difficult topics of sexual violence and consent, with engaging activity examples, such a myth-busting quizzes and hypothetical scenarios that are adaptable to the target audience’s reality.

Representing the IPS team, the Head of the Rehabilitation, Reintegration and Community Portfolio, Claire Machan, delivered the closing session on utilising PREVEX E-learning resources for student workshops on Active Bystander Intervention.

Other insightful presentations included an exploration of the contents and stakes of sexual education throughout history, and a systematic review of existing programmes to prevent sexual violence. These themes launched an interesting discussion on the strengths and limitations of different intervention programme approaches.

As an invited expert in sexual education evaluations, Frederique Xavier, from the University of Aix Marseille, shared her experiences in delivering international sex education sessions with children, and best practices for evaluating these programmes.

The second dissemination event in the scope of PREVEX is set to happen in October 2023 and will be held in Calabria, Italy. This will again be open for online participants, with registration available soon via IPS’s social media channels. The project consortium hopes to continue engaging a large number of participants and building prevention knowledge on the topics of Emotional and Sexual Abuse Among Young People.

*Project introduction derivated from research by project partner Sarah Tibbles from the University of Lille.


Banyard, V. L., Plante, E. G., & Moynihan, M. M. (2004). Bystander education: Bringing a broader community perspective to sexual violence prevention. Journal of Community Psychology, 32(1), 61-79. doi: 10.1002/jcop.10078

Coker, A. L., Cook-Craig, P. G., Williams, C. M., Fisher, B. S., Clear, E. R., Garcia, L. S., & Hegge, L. M. (2011). Evaluation of Green Dot: An active bystander intervention to reduce sexual violence on college campuses. Violence Against Women, 17(6). doi: 777–796. 10.1177/1077801211410264

Gidycz, C. A., Orchowski, L. M., Probst, D. R., Edwards, K. M., Murphy, M., & Tansill, E. (2015). Concurrent administration of sexual assault prevention and risk reduction programming: Outcomes for women. Violence Against Women, 21(6), 780-800. doi: 10.1177/1077801215576579

Jozkowski, K. N., & Peterson, Z. D. (2014). Assessing the validity and reliability of the perceptions of the consent to sex scale. The Journal of Sex Research, 51(6), 632-645.

Kleinsasser, A., Jouriles, E. N., McDonald, R., & Rosenfield, D. (2015). An online bystander intervention program for the prevention of sexual violence. Psychology of Violence, 5(3), 227-235. doi: 10.1037%2Fa0037393

Nieder, C., Bosch, J. F., Nockemann, A. P., & Kärtner, J. (2022). Evaluation of RISE: A Sexual Violence Prevention Program for Female College Students in India. Journal of Interpersonal Violence, 37(7-8), NP5538-NP5565. doi: 10.1177/0886260520959631

Orchowski, L. M., Gidycz, C. A., & Raffle, H. (2008). Evaluation of a sexual assault risk reduction and self-defense program: A prospective analysis of a revised protocol. Psychology of Women Quarterly, 32(2), 204-218. doi: 10.1111/j.1471-6402.2008.00425.x

Salazar, L. F., Vivolo-Kantor, A., Hardin, J., & Berkowitz, A. (2014). A web-based sexual violence bystander intervention for male college students: Randomized controlled trial. Journal of Medical Internet Research, 16(9), e3426. doi: 10.2196/jmir.3426

Salazar, L. F., Vivolo-Kantor, A., & Schipani-McLaughlin, A. M. (2019). Theoretical mediators of Real Consent: A web-based sexual violence prevention and bystander education program. Health Education & Behavior, 46(1), 79-88. doi: 10.1177/1090198118779126

Sargent, K. S., Jouriles, E. N., Rosenfield, D., & McDonald, R. (2017). A high school-based evaluation of TakeCARE, a video bystander program to prevent adolescent relationship violence. Journal of Youth and Adolescence, 46(3), 633-643. doi: 10.1007/s10964-016-0622-z

Senn, C. Y., Eliasziw, M., Hobden, K. L., Newby-Clark, I. R., Barata, P. C., Radtke, H. L., & Thurston, W. E. (2017). Secondary and 2-year outcomes of a sexual assault resistance program for university women. Psychology of Women Quarterly, 41(2), 147-162. doi: 10.1177/0361684317690119

Senn, C. Y., Eliasziw, M., Hobden, K. L., Barata, P. C., Radtke, H. L., Thurston, W. E., & Newby-Clark, I. R. (2021). Testing a model of how a sexual assault resistance education program for women reduces sexual assaults. Psychology of Women Quarterly, 45(1), 20-36. doi: 10.1177/0361684320962561

Senn, C. Y., Barata, P., Eliasziw, M., Hobden, K., Radtke, H. L., Thurston, W. E., & Newby-Clark, I. R. (2022). Sexual assault resistance education’s benefits for survivors of attempted and completed rape. Women & Therapy, 45(1), 41-67. doi: 10.1080/02703149.2021.1971425

Know more about this project


Preventing Emotional and Sexual Abuse Among Young People

The PREVEX project is promoted by the Militants Des Savoirs Association (France) and partnered by BSAFE LAB/Beira Interior University (Portugal), IPS_Innovative Prison Systems (Portugal), University of Calabria (Italy), University of Lille (France), Salzburg University of Applied Sciences (Austria), University Rey Juan Carlos (Spain) and University of Malta (Malta).

For further information about this project, please visit www.prevex-project.com

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