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Butler -

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American Journal of Criminal Justice



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In response to the pervasive problem of sexual victimization on campus, many colleges in the United States have adopted bystander intervention programs which seek to educate students and provide them with the tools necessary to intervene in potentially risky situations. Research shows that how potential bystanders construct potential victims and perpetrators of campus victimization significantly impacts their progression to intervention. As an extension of Pugh, Ningard, Vander Ven and Butler’s (Deviant Behavior, 2016) work on victim ambiguity, the present study drew from intensive interviews of 30 undergraduates from a large university in the American Midwest to examine how students construct perpetrators in situations that hold the potential for sexual assault. Findings suggest that common stereotypes about alcohol, sexual assault, and risk guided bystander constructions of potential perpetrators of sexual assault in the drinking scene, which influenced their self-reported intervention likelihood. Respondents referred to strangers, the transient type (i.e., those who suspiciously leave a party scene with a woman), “druggers,” “creepers,” and other social indicators when discussing typical predators and the informal strategies for recognizing them in the drinking scene. Program implications are discussed.


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