ASPPH logo


Member Research & Reports

Member Research & Reports

BU: Community Norms Affect Youths’ Likelihood of Intervening in Sexual/Dating Violence

Dating and sexual violence bystander intervention programs are becoming popular, but there is little information about what facilitates or inhibits bystanders taking action. A new study led by a Boston University School of Public Health (BUSPH) researcher shows the importance of community norms in youths’ bystander behavior.

The studypublished in the American Journal of Community Psychology, found that high-school students were more likely to take action if they viewed their community as cohesive and adults in their community as against perpetration and supportive of survivors and of prevention efforts.

“This study tells us that working on community norms is worth it,” says lead author Dr. Emily Rothman, professor of community health sciences at BUSPH. “Communities can function in ways that support people to help survivors of sexual and dating violence, intervene with perpetrators, and go out and prevent sexual and dating violence.”

The researchers conducted a survey of 2,172 students from four high schools in small to mid-sized towns in one New England state. The participants responded to questions about their perceptions of the norms among people in their communities, and how likely people would be to engage in various prevention and support behaviors related to dating and sexual violence.

Read more about this study.