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Bystander Intervention initiative launches in Essex

Safety Advisory Group initiative aims to address sexual harassment in the county

As part of Essex County Council’s (ECC) commitment to making the county safer for residents, a new initiative has launched that aims to address sexual harassment and inappropriate behaviour towards women and girls.

ECC’s Safety Advisory Group’s (SAG) ‘Bystander Intervention’ initiative launched on Monday 13 March on National Bystander Awareness day. The initiative aims to provide residents with information and guidance on what they could do if they saw inappropriate or threatening behaviour and gives advice on how they could address it in a safe way.

The online module has a particular focus on women’s safety and sexual harassment.

Research conducted by the SAG in late 2021 found that 81% of women who responded were not confident that passers-by would help them if someone was acting inappropriately towards them. The same research showed that 60% of male respondents and 70% of women respondents didn’t feel confident that they would be able to safely intervene if they saw someone behaving inappropriately towards a woman.

The module will help participants learn more what sexual harassment looks like, the myths and stereotypes that continue to enable and facilitate sexual harassment in our communities, and the importance of people not colluding with these myths or minimising unacceptable behaviour.

It will also give guidance on what actions they could take to safely intervene or to refer or signpost victims to suitable support services.

Deputy Leader and Cabinet Member for Communities, Cllr Louise McKinlay said: “Everyone in Essex has the right to live their life free of fear and free of harassment.

“Whilst much work is being done with us by schools, the police and communities across the county to eradicate sexual harassment, we know many women in the county still feel afraid when out at night, and this is not acceptable.

“Our new Bystander Intervention initiative is an opportunity for anyone in the county to learn about what they could do and how they could help when witnessing sexual harassment or inappropriate behaviour. It is about equipping residents with the information and guidance to help them feel more confident to help in these situations.

“This initiative signals a real turning point in our efforts to make the county safer, particularly for women.”

Roger Hirst, Police, Fire and Crime Commissioner for Essex said “No woman should feel unsafe in their community but the sad truth is that many do. It is up to all of us to improve how women and girls are treated.

“This initiative by Essex County Council is a positive way to build awareness of what sexual harassment is and the actions that lead to women not feeling safe. By understanding the causes we can each contribute to improving women’s safety.”

The Bystander Intervention Information module is open to anyone in the county and only takes 45 minutes, visit the Essex County Council website to sign up.

Page published on 15/03/2023.
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01245 291600

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