University Students’ Salient Beliefs that Facilitate or Impede Intervention in Sexual Harassment Incidents

Stiliani Chroni, Hedmark University College, Norway

Theme: Professional issues and ethics (AASP-related)

Program ID: SYM-13

Presentation: October 3, 2013 2:30 pm - 3:45 pm

Room: Elmwood


Sexual harassment experiences in sport are common affecting 71.5% of 308 Greek female athletes surveyed (Chroni & Fasting, 2009). Chroni et al. (2012) found that if university students witnessed a sexual harassment incident they intended to intervene if they perceived strong social pressure, had strong self-control beliefs, and held negative, unfavorable attitudes toward sexual harassment. To further explore factors related to intervening in sexual harassment incidents as a bystander, 20 sport science university students (10 men and 10 women, M age = 22, SD = .632) completed an open-ended questionnaire exploring their beliefs related to standing up for a victim of sexual harassment. Participants responded to questions about the advantages and disadvantages of standing up to sexual harassment verbally; about significant others, who would approve and disapprove of standing up verbally; and about parameters facilitating and impeding them from acting in a sexual harassment situation. Results revealed that in sexual harassment situations, students had concerns about whether or not others would back up their actions, worried about confronting harassers who are friends, were afraid of getting in trouble with the harasser or becoming targeted in sexual harassment, and were concerned about the number of bystanders witnessing the incident. Additionally, participants reported lack of certainty about whether to respond to sexual harassment claims if they had not been present when the incident occurred and if they heard only the woman’s point of view. Some students thought it was likely that women attracted sexual harassment onto themselves. The results of this study show that intervening in sexual harassment incidents involves complex processes and highlight key factors that contribute to responses to sexual harassment.

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