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Research Case studies

Addressing Sexual Bullying

Dr Tamara Turner-Moore

Dr Tamara Turner-Moore’s background is in forensic psychology. Her research focuses on the psychology of sexual violence and abuse, including rape, sexual assault, child sexual abuse and sexual bullying. She is interested in addressing questions such as: What causes sexual violence and abuse? How can we assess a person's risk for committing sexual violence and abuse? How can we prevent sexual violence and abuse?

In her current role, Dr Turner-Moore teaches at all levels of the BSc (Hons) Psychology course and on the MSc Psychology.

Dr Turner-Moore is currently engaged in an EU-funded research project to combat sexual bullying amongst young people across Europe.

The Addressing Sexual Bullying Across Europe (ASBAE) project, led by Dr Tamara Turner-Moore, Dr Kate Milnes and Professor Brendan Gough at Leeds Beckett, is developing peer-to-peer intervention programmes to empower young people aged 13-18.

The two-year project, which has now been joined by children’s charity, the NSPCC, as an associate partner, will bring together expertise from non-governmental partners across Europe, specialising in work with women and children, starting with focus group discussions with young people and professionals in each country.

The partners are: LEAP in the UK, DEMETRA Association in Bulgaria, PAPILOT in Slovenia, MARTA in Latvia and PEPITA in Italy. The idea behind the focus groups is to gather the young people’s understanding and experiences of sexual bullying, and their views on tackling it. The team will also identify best practice in addressing sexual bullying through focus groups with professionals who work in the field.

The next stage will involve 24 young people per country generating ideas for a peer-led programme of workshops. The workshops will aim to raise awareness and empower young people to recognise and prevent sexual bullying and will be piloted with 120 young people across the five countries.

Speaking about the project, Dr Turner-Moore commented: “Sexual bullying is a serious issue for young people today and can have a big impact on self-esteem, personal relationships and education. Young people are at the centre of our project: they are contributing to the design, implementation and analysis of the research; they are sharing their understanding and experiences of sexual bullying and their ideas for tackling it; they are helping to create, pilot and evaluate a workshop for young people on sexual bullying; and they will deliver this prevention programme to their peers with the support of a facilitator. In partnership with young people, we aim to empower young people across Europe to recognise and address sexual bullying, and in so doing, to protect themselves and their peers from harm.”

The pilot workshops will be delivered by 20 trained young people with the support of ten facilitators. The workshop will then be finalised based on the young people’s experiences of taking part. This peer-led empowerment will continue after the project as the trained group cascade their knowledge, skills and experience to the next group of young people and adults, promoting change at a pan-European level.

Throughout Europe, sexual bullying (bullying that has a sexual dimension or dynamic, or is based on a person’s gender or sexuality) is increasingly prevalent and often brings ill health, school absence and, at times, suicide. Calling someone names because they have or haven’t had sex, sharing intimate photos without the person’s permission, spreading rumours about someone’s sexuality - these are only a few examples of sexual bullying. This bullying can be face-to-face, behind someone’s back or cyber-bullying.

The project has been funded by the Daphne III funding programme of the EU, which aims to contribute to the protection of children, young people and women against all forms of violence.

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