Developing bystander responses to sexual harassment among young people

In this project, undertaken in Portugal (FPCEUP / UMAR), Slovenia (Peace Institute), United Kingdom (CWASU, London Met), Malta (University of Malta - MT) the researchers developed, piloted, implemented, and evaluated a programme for bystanders to prevent sexual harassment in secondary schools.

September 1, 2016


CWASU is one of four partners, who were awarded a total of €544,000 by Daphne, to conduct this two year research into sexual harassment among young people. The project was led by colleagues at the Faculty of Psychology and Education Sciences, University of Porto (lead partner), and partners at the Faculty for Social Well Being, University of Malta and the Peace Institute (Mirovni institut) in Slovenia.

Further information about the project and resources can be found on the EU Bystanders Project website.

Project background

The Fundamental Rights Agency found that sexual harassment (SH) was the most prevalent form of violence against girls and women, across the 28 EU member states (FRA, 2014). A promising new approach to the prevention of SH is focusing on young people as bystanders, inviting them to notice and intervene in SH situations.

SH is defined by physical and non-physical, verbal, and cyber unwanted sexual attention, including a wide range of behaviors that victimize women and girls. Boys and young men may also be victims of SH, especially when they do not meet the standards of hegemonic masculinity. Perpetrators can be people known to the victim, such as friends, partners, colleagues and others, as well as people unknown. Also, it’s important to consider how SH is experienced by people who may not be directly involved in it – bystanders – and their role in the situation.

The project objectives were to:

  • increase knowledge and awareness of sexual harassment in students and staff;
  • develop, pilot and deliver a training programme for students and school staff to enable them to intervene in situations of sexual harassment;
  • increase the motivation of bystanders to stop sexual harassment in high schools;
  • develop a manual and materials adapted to each country;
  • develop school policies and protocols on sexual harassment;
  • compare the implementation and effectiveness of the programme in the four countries.

The final paper comparing implementation of the programme across the four countries can be viewed and downloaded here.

The England team’s report on findings from implementation of the programme in three London schools can be downloaded here.

The Speak Up/Out lessons plans and materials on tackling sexual harassment and sexism in schools can be downloaded for free here.


  • Project Team:
    Prof Liz Kelly, Dr Sukhwant Dhaliwal, Dr Nicola Sharp-Jeffs