Skip Ribbon Commands
Skip to main content







Transforming Sexual Harassment Prevention Efforts by

Enabling Targets and Observers to Voice 

Lynn Bowes Sperry, Ph.D. and Stacie Chappell, Ph.D.

Western New England University


Even before movements like #MeToo, the E.E.O.C. Select Task Force on the Study of Workplace Harassment concluded it was time to "reboot workplace harassment prevention efforts" (Feldblum & Lipnic, 2016). As part of this reboot, the task force recommended that organizations shift their focus from organizational compliance to more holistic efforts (such as bystander intervention training) that are designed to build community and promote organizational change. The silence of targets and observers in response to sexual harassment, exclusion, and backlash cannot be addressed effectively with the compliance-based solutions currently in use by most organizations. The Giving Voice to Values (Gentile, 2010) is a promising method for addressing workplace sexual harassment - it can encourage and enable employees to continue honest discussions as well as to take action in response to backlash resulting from changes in anti-harassment policies, procedures, and training programs (Chappell & Bowes-Sperry, 2015). What little empirical research there is on bystanders in workplace sexual harassment indicates that interventions are typically delayed and ineffective (McDonald, Charlesworth, & Graham, 2016). Chappell and Bowes-Sperry (2015) describe how organizations can strategically move beyond compliance to more effectively address sexual harassment. At its core, Giving Voice to Values (GVV) is an approach and curriculum designed to empower individuals to have skillful conversations about values conflicts, and ultimately shift organizational practices and culture (Gentile, 2010). In this paper, we report on a pilot program based on the design recommendations from Chappell & Bowes-Sperry (2015).


A Life Skills Approach to Sexual Assault Prevention

Kimberly Dickman, Ph.D., and El-Len Serra, US Air Force Academy

When most sexual assault messaging and education is informational, community-level messaging that transmits data, facts, awareness of the problem, and helping agency information the US Air Force Academy committed to fill a gap to truly address prevention in terms of individual skills development. Taking a proven life skills development program, The Botvin Lifeskills Program, which had been shown to be effective for many different risky health behaviors, in many different trials, with many different diverse populations the Academy collaborated to adapt the program to its cadet population. Cadet Healthy Personal Skills, CHiPS, is the locally adapted program for college aged students which teaches self-management, social skills, and social resistance skills. This poster will present the logic and data supporting the use of a life skills program to help reduce risk in multiple health behaviors to include sexual violence. The process and outcomes of the Academy's randomized control trial study will be highlighted. Additionally, it will present the specifics of the CHiPS curriculum and the greater challenges and strengths of using novel approaches to sexual assault prevention.



Moving Upstream from Compliance to Prevention

Ashley Blamey, DSW University of Tennessee, Knoxville


In 2015, the University of Tennessee, Knoxville (UTK) was awarded a $299,821 grant from the Office on Violence Against Women Grant, and in September 2016, University of Tennessee System (UT System) President Joe DiPietro appointed a special, independent commission to review and address Title IX compliance across the UT System. Utilizing the training provided by the Office on Violence Against Women under the Department of Justice and the 2016 Report, a system wide Office of Title IX was established. Under the direction of the Title IX coordinator, Title IX team members, housed in critical areas across campuses, work collaboratively to educate the campus communities, prevent incidents, support those in need, and address Title IX related concerns. The mission the Office of Title IX is to serve UT through a comprehensive commitment of ensuring access to education. The model is grounded in the social-ecological model and emphasizes five key areas: 1. Policy: Our foundation is in the policy and procedures we follow. 2. Prevention & Education: Our goal is to prevent sexual misconduct, relationship violence, stalking, and retaliation before they happen. 3. Support & Interim Measures: Our promise is to provide support and appropriate interim measures to individuals involved in the Title IX process. 4. Investigation & Resolution: Our commitments to due process, campus safety, and encouraging reporting guide how we investigate and resolve reports. 5. Patterns & Trends: Our responsibility is to use the best available research, evidence based practice, and our own campus and institute trends in our prevention and response efforts. This poster will provide an overview of the historical context, the model, implementation, and lessons learned when compliance is the foundation but prevention is the aspiration of the institution.


The Vol Module: Pre-matriculation Education at the University of Tennessee

Laura Bryant MSSW, University of Tennessee, Knoxville


In 2015, the University of Tennessee (UT) was awarded a $299,821 grant from the Office on Violence Against Women Grant. Supported by this grant, we developed a sexual violence prevention module (the module) for all incoming first-year students. Since 2017, the module has been a part of first-year student pre-matriculation education. The module is an interactive fifteen-minute experience that we developed in partnership with a local design firm, Pyxl, with UT prevention professionals developing the content of the module and Pyxl developing the graphics and back end support. The module contains five sections, and a brief learning outcome assessment follows each section: Keeping Relationships Healthy; Your Code, Your Conduct, It Matters; Alcohol & You; Consent; and Active Bystander. UT intentionally designed the module to be easily adaptable to provide other schools, especially those who have limited prevention budgets in the State of Tennessee, with the opportunity to use the module at no charge. To help ensure the effectiveness of the module, while certain components will be adaptable so schools can better target their unique populations, other components, such as those necessary for Campus SaVE Act compliance, are static. Adaptable components include policies, mascot, colors, logo, and campus specific data. The poster presentation will include module learning outcomes, images from the module, an overview of each module section, assessment data, and module feedback. "This project was supported by Grant No. 2015-WA-AX-0024 awarded by the Office on Violence Against Women, U.S. Department of Justice. The opinions, findings, conclusions, and recommendations expressed in this publication/program/exhibition are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the Department of Justice, Office on Violence Against Women."


University of Minnesota's President's Initiative to Prevent Sexual Misconduct

John Finnegan, Ph.D., and Karen Miksch, J.D., Sara Veblen-Mortenson, MPH/MSW

University of Minnesota


In May, 2017 the University of Minnesota's President Kaler charged the School of Public Health's Dean Finnegan to employ a public health approach to enhance and expand the institution's efforts to prevent sexual misconduct and sexual violence across the University system. The goal is to create a community and culture that is intolerant of sexual harassment, assault, or misconduct of any kind and its members are expected to take action to prevent it from occurring. Research shows that climate is the greatest predictor of higher rates of sexual violence and that it is imperative to move beyond compliance to address culture and climate (NAS, 2018). A Socio Ecological Model guides this work and considers a complex interplay between individual, relationship, community, and societal factors and a range of risk/protective (experiencing or perpetrating) factors for violence. A key stakeholder Coordinating Committee and four Work Groups; Public Health Awareness Campaign, Required Online Training, Student Engagement and Education, and Evaluation and Research, are implementing and evaluating key prevention strategies such as a social norms approach and bystander engagement (Berkowitz, 2009, 2010). Evaluation includes established baseline levels of sexual misconduct among students, faculty and staff through population based surveys, pre/post online training survey results indicated online training significantly improved understanding of sexual misconduct, the University of Minnesota Sexual Misconduct Policy, and increased knowledge of reporting responsibilities among faculty and staff, and procedural changes reflect increased institutional responsibility and accountability. Existing data sets will help aid original research designed to break new ground in the field of sexual misconduct.


Gender Differences in Social Reasoning about Sexual Violence in College Freshmen

Heather Imrie, University of Illinois at Chicago


Social Cognitive Domain Theory (SCDT) is a conceptual framework for understanding how people reason about the world. This is a correlation design study which utilized SCDT to investigate how college students' reason about rape and whether men and women differ in their conceptualizations. 817 college students (264 males, 411 females) participated in an online survey focused on students' attitudes and beliefs about sexual behavior. The results presented in this paper focus on one aspect of the survey in which students responded to a scenario that described an incident of nonconsensual sexual activity. The students were asked to decide if it was not at all wrong (1) to completely wrong (4) for one student to have sex without consent with another student. Then the participants chose one of eight reasons that best described their answer. The reasons were culled from research about rape myths. These rape myths aligned with domains of social reasoning within SCDT: moral (1), personal as moral (2), personal (3), conventional-victim blaming (4), and conventional socio-legal (5). Most students viewed the situation as mostly to completely wrong but only 3.7% of respondents used purely moral reasoning in assessing judgment. An independent samples T-test indicated there were gender differences in judgment. A chisquare test of independence indicated that the gender of the student has an effect on how they reason about sexual assault. Implications for prevention education are included.


Decreasing Sexual Assault by Increasing Inclusive Leadership

and the Willingness to be Excluded

J. Goosby Smith, MBA, Ph.D. The Citadel, The Military College of South Carolina


It is commonly accepted that building cohesiveness, trust, and loyalty supports mission readiness by creating and sustaining environments in which all are willing and able to bring their best to achieve the organization's goals.   One way that these characteristics are built between and among leaders and organizational members is through creating inclusive policies, engaging in inclusive leadership behavior, and promoting inclusive behavior among those whom the leader manages. In a prior study of more than 6000 respondents in three sectors, an eight-dimension model of inclusion was developed (Smith, 2013).  While inclusion itself is positive, when a leader is addicted to it, his or her effectiveness is compromised. After sharing that model, this paper applies that model to two types of inclusion: parochial and cosmopolitan (Smith, forthcoming). The paper then applies best practices of effective addiction treatment options to support individuals and leaders breaking their addictions to inclusion, transforming themselves from passive bystanders to active "upstanders," people "who [know] what's happening is wrong and [do] something to make things right."ii Ways to shift leadership behavior, organizational culture are  presented. i Smith, J. G., & Lindsay, J. B. (2014). Beyond inclusion: Work life interconnectedness, energy and resilience in organizations. Springer.

ii iii Kates, A., & Galbraith, J. R. (2010). Designing your organization: Using the STAR model to solve 5 critical design challenges. John Wiley & Sons



Intervention at the Lowest Level: A Possible Mechanism for Countering the Effects of Hyper-Masculinity

Rachel Chamberlain, University of California, Los Angeles


Sexual assault has been detrimental in the Unites States military, interfering with mental health and subsequently Soldier readiness, morale, and mission effectiveness; in 2016 4.3 and 0.6 percent of females and males respectively had been sexually assaulted in the military according to FY 16 Annual Report. Military services have been increasing the proportion of female Soldiers such that in 2016, females represented about 17 percent of armed forces according to, however many observe that the military continues to uphold masculine values such as physical fitness, toughness, dominance, and aggressive behavior (Reit, R., 2009; Castro, C. A et al, 2015). While hypermasculinity is positively associated with unit cohesion in male-only units, hyper-masculinity decreases cohesion in mixed-gender units (Rosen, L. N. et al 2003). Hypermasculine traits and lessened unit cohesion are linked to lessened acceptance of females and, furthermore, sexual assault (Castro, C. A. et al, 2009). I propose an approach in which sexual assault is prevented at the lowest level. During basic training, Soldiers are under the command of a primary instructor. This is a Soldier's first military leader; the instructor's attitude has a potential to influence the Soldier's future attitudes. These instructors often practice hyper-masculine behaviors, however I propose a 2x2 quasi-experiment: four training units will maintain traditional instructors, while four units will be led by instructors that maintain ungendered professionalism. In each conditions, two males and two females will be instructors. Soldiers in these units will be tested before and after training with an inventory that will be designed to assess individual attitude and unit cohesion. I hypothesized that engendered professionalism will promote cohesion and attitude, ultimately diminishing a precursor to sexual assault.