Program to prevent sexual assaults at festivals
It’s festival season in Ottawa and that means those who work with victims of sexual assault, are seeing more attacks than usual.
New research in Ottawa shows that mass gatherings are a prime opportunity for predators.
To deal with the high rate of sexual assaults at festivals, a new program is training volunteers, like those at Bluesfest, to spot people in trouble, and to intervene.
Dr. Kari Sampsel sees many victims of sexual assault, as Medical Director of the Sexual Assault and Partner Abuse Care Program, at the Civic Campus, of the Ottawa Hospital.
“We do see more patients around New Year’s, Canada Day, music festivals, around university frosh, and Halloween, those are our peak times of the year,” says Dr. Sampsel.
Dr. Sampsel’s recently completed research into the 204 sexual assaults reported to her program in 2013. It showed that 25% of those assaults happened at mass gatherings.
Her research has led to the creation of a program, called Project SoundCheck, to train festival volunteers in prevention.
“What we are doing is providing bystander intervention training for staff and volunteers at festivals. We teach them what they can do to prevent sexual assault,” says Kira-Lynn Ferderber, with Project SoundCheck.
Bluesfest and a few other festivals have signed-on for the training. Project SoundCheck is available, free of charge, to any festival or organization planning an event in the capital.