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Facilitated workshops to teach students to be active bystanders


The Center for Student Well-Being will soon be selecting Violence Prevention Trainers, who will serve to prevent sexual violence within the USF community through facilitated workshops.

Trainers will be voluntarily focusing on relationship/dating violence prevention while also delivering the message of the Got Consent campaign.

Danielle Smith, the Health Promotion Specialist, said the goal for the trainer implementation is to make USF a safer campus with educational interactions that will show students what’s wrong with sexual violence.  

With student trainers directing workshops and events instead of staff members, Smith said she’s confident the communication between trainers and students will prove to be more effective. 

“We know that peer-to-peer interactions are usually more beneficial for students, than staff members getting up in front of a group of students,” Smith said. “So, that’s why we implemented this kind of model.” 

As an added expansion to the Violence Prevention program under The Center for Student Well-Being, the 10-20 trainers picked by the fall semester will have set responsibilities such as having to facilitate at least two trainings a semester, attending certain outreaches and being present during continued education meetings. 

While the position includes a structured job criteria, Smith said trainers also have the option of picking specific tasks if they want to work on mastering certain skills. As done with past prevention trainers last fall, Smith said she wants to help the selected individuals accomplish their desired goals during their volunteer experience.

“I kind of work with them on putting together a plan for the semester with their goals,” Smith said. “If they may want some more public speaking skills, I might have them work on some other presentations with me. As much as they want out of it (the training), they can get out of it.” 

Though Violence Prevention trainers do their part in educating and informing, their primary aim is to push students to be active bystanders. Leading students to be the kind of people who take some form of action if they witness a scene that does not look right is the outcome that The Center for Student Well-Being is anticipating.  

According to Smith, there are aspects within ourselves and within our culture that have caused us to say silent in situations where sexual assault or harassment is occurring. 

“A lot of it is fear. People are afraid to step in and intervene, and a lot of people have personal barriers and that’s actually one of the main points we go over in our bystander intervention training — your own personal barriers,” Smith said. “(We talk about) why you have those barriers and how you can overcome them.”

As said by Smith, inaction toward sexual violence is something that has been normalized in our culture and it will take time to change that. However, Smith is confident that having trainers create active bystanders in the USF community will be prove to be successful in taking a step in the right direction. 

“I think that the more students we reach the more normalized it is to step in and intervene and prevent violence on campus,” Smith said. “So, I think this is a culture shift. Normalizing these behaviors will definitely be effective in preventing violence on a larger scale.”