Journal Article

Awareness and support: students’ views about the prevention of sexual assault on UK campuses


Purpose: Sexual assault is prevalent on UK University campuses, and prevention efforts are being increased. However, at present there is limited evidence about UK students’ attitudes towards sexual assault prevention and what they think should be done to effectively address the issue. The purpose of this study was to explore these views to provide a foundation for the development of a new intervention. Methods: A cross sectional anonymous online survey was completed by 515 students (73% women; M age 21.56; 79% heterosexual; 82.9% White). There were quantitative questions about experiences of sexual assault, attitudes towards sexual consent and victim blaming. Qualitative data was collected regarding participants’ views on what universities should do to target sexual assault. Findings: In line with previous studies, we found evidence of commonplace and normalised sexual assault behaviours. Women had more positive attitudes towards explicit consent than men, and were less likely to blame victims of sexual assault who had been drinking. Consent behaviour was predicted by positive views towards consent and lower levels of blaming. Themes relating to ‘awareness’, ‘attitudes’, ‘environment’ and ‘opposition’ were identified in the qualitative data. Practical implications: Findings highlight the importance of engaging with students to develop effective prevention measures. Students are likely to find university led prevention strategies acceptable, but this topic needs to be addressed in the context of the prevailing culture, which may provide an environment where certain behaviours are tolerated. New prevention programmes need to treat the issue as one that is relevant to all students and not just target men as perpetrators and women as victims. Such strategies need to do more than treat this as an isolated issue, to which the solution is re-education about the meaning of consent.

Attached files


Camp, Sarah J.
Sherlock-Smith, A. C.
Davies, Emma L.

Oxford Brookes departments

Faculty of Health and Life Sciences\Department of Psychology, Health and Professional Development


Year of publication: 2018
Date of RADAR deposit: 2018-05-30

Creative Commons License This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License

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