Hollaback to catcalls

Street harassment has a lower negative impact on pedestrians who respond to it, according to a study by the ILR School's new Worker Institute.

Researchers analyzed descriptions of street harassment experiences submitted to Hollaback!, which offers street harassment victims free smart phone apps to post their experiences online.

Findings include:

  • Street harassment is under-researched but prevalent for many New York City residents.
  • Emotional reactions to street harassment vary but any harassment - verbal, groping, assault - can produce feelings of fear, anger and shame.
  • Targets who photograph the harasser or report harassment to officials appear to experience less negative emotional impact than those who don't.
  • When bystanders fail to act, their presence tended to compound targets' negative emotional responses.
  • Bystander interventions that had a positive influence on targets could be as simple as a knowing look or a supportive statement.
  • When a bystander took action by confronting the harasser, harassment was more likely to stop.

According to the Centers for Disease Control, street harassment targeting women and LGBTQ people is the most pervasive form of sexual violence and the least legislated against.

- Mary Catt