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Psychology Students Train Bystanders

January 27, 2020

A Rutgers University Camden psychology professor’s teaching of a bystander intervention program in class helped extend sexual assault prevention training to more than 150 others on campus, the university announced in a press release.

Courtenay Cavanaugh, an associate professor of psychology at Rutgers Camden, administered TakeCARE to her 16-student civic learning course during the fall of 2017, the university said. TakeCARE is a sexual assault prevention and awareness video program that has been proven in studies to increase students’ likeliness to intervene in social situations and prevent sexual assault.

With help from the university’s student affairs department, students in Cavanaugh's class advertised and held six sessions on campus for peers to participate in TakeCARE and discuss barriers to bystander intervention. Cavanaugh published the peer-to-peer distribution method of the intervention program in the October 2019 issue of Teaching of Psychology, a journal for psychology educators. The method “could serve as a model for psychology courses nationwide,” the Rutgers Camden release said.

"Teachers of psychology have been called to both educate college students about interpersonal violence (e.g., sexual assault) and use service learning," Cavanaugh wrote in her research article. "However, few models exist for how teachers may simultaneously address both of these calls … This course illustrates a novel model for advancing sexual assault education and prevention on campus."


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