Despite bystanders' potential to prevent gender-based violence (GBV), numerous barriers hinder their ability or willingness to take action, a new study finds.
About GBV: GBV is any harmful act directed at an individual or group based on their gender identity, gender expression or perceived gender. It's rooted in unequal power dynamics and aims to control, intimidate or punish the victim. While women and girls are disproportionately affected by GBV, it can also target men, boys, transgender individuals and non-binary people.
Unmasking the barriers: A team of researchers led by Dr. Sihyun Park from Chung-Ang University conducted a systematic review and meta-analysis, aiming to identify the key hurdles hindering bystander interventions during GBV. Published in Trauma, Violence & Abuse, their study examined existing literature, collecting data to determine the effect sizes of each barrier and exploring the impact of bystander population, gender and types of GBV situations.
What the analysis found: The analysis identified several barriers, including failure to notice, failure to recognize the situation as a risk, reluctance to take responsibility due to a lack of knowledge and incompetence in addressing the situation. It also found that the most significant barrier preventing bystander intervention is the lack of success in previous intervention attempts. Bystanders who had previously failed to effectively help victims experienced negative emotions and hesitated to intervene in future situations.
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Tailored programs for specific populations: Dr. Park's team also uncovered that people in universities and colleges are particularly vulnerable to these barriers, indicating the need for targeted intervention programs tailored to this specific population of bystanders. The barriers were also found to be more potent in cases of violence against women and sexual assault compared to intimate partner violence.
Importance of the findings: The research provides crucial insights for the future of bystander intervention education programs. The researchers are confident that their findings will help lay the foundation for evidence-based educational initiatives that prioritize the most critical barriers, ultimately contributing to a proactive community response against GBV.
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