Session 2

Healthy, Positive Social Norms

We will be learning and working together as a group in this programme

Some of the material we will be discussing will be sensitive and some of us will have had personal experience of the things we discuss

We will all be respectful of personal emotions as we learn

Please be aware that we will be talking about sensitive issues and issues that might have affected you or people you care about. 

If you feel uncomfortable or upset it is fine to leave the space. 

Facilitators will understand and are trained to help you. 

Session Objectives

To determine how social norms are constructed and valued amongst society.

To reflect on why social norms play a part in life and practice.

To know how we may change unhealthy behaviour

To understand and deconstruct “lad culture” and its impact.

Current situation

Minority perception

But from the perspective of those in the minority –

they believe they are in the majority (false consensus) and that their behaviour is not unacceptable

Aim of intervention

Unacceptable behaviour becomes SO socially proscribed (clearly defined as unacceptable) that most people stop doing it

Range of Behaviours

Healthy, age-appropriate, mutually respectful, safe

Mutually flirtatious, playful

Situation- or age-inappropriate or non-mutual


Sexually abusive & violent

How can we help to alter behaviour?

Inappropriate Language 

Read through the role play in groups.

Designate a character to people in the group and discuss how you may personally act in that situation.

A student’s personal experience

“I was approached by a group of male students as I was walking out of my halls of residence and they were all shouting sexual things at me and then one of them approached me, grabbed me around the waist and then started to touch my breasts and bottom. He was saying things like ‘you know you want this’ and ‘you know you're up for this’.”

NUS (2011) p13

Impact (of rape, attempted rape, sexual assault, sexual harassment)

“After the attempted rape, I thought I was fine. I got with every boy, but would freak if they touched me down there. I would get drunk every night. I drew away from my friends. I got addicted to prescription drugs. I contemplated suicide. It took me a year and a half to realise I needed help.” 

(Cambridge 2014 p20)

“Lad Culture”?

On Friday night at Syndicate a young female fresher passed out about 1am. Nobody moved to help her get up but four boys crowded around taking upskirt photos.

Freshers’ week at Bristol University September 2013 via Facebook

A rugby club at Oxford University has been banned from competing and had its leadership dismissed after organising a "free pussy" event, which instructed students to spike their dates' drinks.

Huffpo, 5/11/13

Is there pressure on young men to conform?

Men are more likely than women to be perpetrators of sexual assault.

Women are more likely than men to be victims.

Does this tell the whole story?

Back to the NUS case study...

Being a Man?

“You have to show how masculine you are; you can’t show sensitivity – it is difficult to be different – you need to look and act a certain way”

(young man, Year 11: EVAW: A Different World is Possible, p.6)

- risk of substance abuse

- high-risk behaviours (proving toughness; not seeking medical help)

- criminality

- suicide

- experiencing violence

- exclusion from school & underachieving at school 

- being incarcerated in prison

Research shows:

“Men … report that they do not personally believe in many societal myths about masculinity but believe that other men do”

(Fabiano et al., 2003)

Men often underestimate the extent to which other men are uncomfortable with stereotypical (negative) masculine behaviour

(studies cited in Berkowitz, 2013)

Changing Behaviour - Language

Read through the role play in groups.

Designate a character to people in the group and discuss how you may personally act in that situation.

By being an active bystander, you can help change the perceived social norms that reinforce harmful behaviour and attitudes


Differences between healthy and unhealthy behaviour and why false consensus is a problem

How we might challenge unacceptable behaviour and misconceptions

Understand the lasting effect of this behaviour

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Bystander Session 2 Health, Positive Social Norms

by sutraining


Public - 6/28/16, 1:41 PM