The bystander approach: Strengths-based sexual assault prevention with at-risk groups

Sarah McMahon, G. Lawrence Farmer

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

21 Scopus citations


Bystander intervention is described as a promising approach for social workers engaged with groups labeled "at risk" for perpetrating sexual violence. An exploratory study was conducted with one at-risk group, student-athletes, to determine their willingness to intervene as bystanders in situations involving sexual violence. A survey was administered to 205 participants, focus groups held with nine teams, and individual interviews conducted with 22 student-athletes. Results indicate that the closeness of the team bond is the most significant predictor for willingness to intervene. Many student-athletes reported a willingness to intervene in situations involving sexual violence but need further skill development to do so effectively. Implications for social workers implementing the bystander approach with at-risk groups are discussed, such as skill development and utilization of the strengths perspective.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1042-1065
Number of pages24
JournalJournal of Human Behavior in the Social Environment
Issue number8
StatePublished - Dec 2009

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Anthropology
  • Social Sciences (miscellaneous)


  • Athletes
  • Bystander intervention
  • Sexual assault


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