Sexual harassment and assault against women have increased at an alarming rate. With this, the frequency at which young women and girls are told about the precautionary steps they should take to deal with such situations, has also increased. A list of dos and don’ts are given which might not always be helpful. However, now virtual reality is going to be used to provide anti-sexual harassment training to young women which will be beneficial to them in the future.
“My Voice, My Choice”
The training system has been named “My Voice, My Choice.” The researchers at Southern Methodist University discovered that with virtual reality resistance training young women are prepared in a better way to deal with unwanted sexual advances. In the training, the participants are put in virtual sexual harassment situations and they are forced to learn how to snub such advances that range from verbal to mild pressuring to physical intimidation.
Graduate programs co-director and associate professor at the SMU Psychology department, Lorelei Simpson Rowe said “The virtual simulations allowed girls to practice being assertive in a realistic environment. The intent of the program is for the learning opportunity to increase the likelihood that they will use the skills in real life. Research has shown that skills are more likely to generalize if they are practiced in a realistic environment, so we used virtual reality to increase the realism.”
The conclusion that Rowe and her fellow researchers came to, was that the virtual reality training is far more effective than any face-to-face training provided with role playing. The program showed that teenage girls could significantly decrease the risk of becoming a victim of sexual assault.
How does it Work?
Co-authors of the study Renee McDonald and Ernest N. Jouriles designed the software by teaming up with the video game department of SMU. The software puts young women in a bedroom with a male avatar. Those who participate in the training are required to wear VR headsets and have to interact with the male avatar for three minutes. The avatar then tries to coerce the participants using different tactics which starts mildly but with each rejection, the resistance grows.
The researchers believe that by placing young girls and women in this virtual reality scenario, they will learn how to say no and stand up firmly.
10 percent of the participants of the study, after three months of follow-up surveys, said that they experienced sexual victimization. However, with the training they endured less psychological stress and their mental health improved.
78 participants also gave a positive feedback about the virtual reality training.
However, the researchers at SMU said that more study is required so that it can cater to a large audience and more young women are benefitted from this anti-sexual harassment virtual reality training.
What do you think?
Do you think virtual reality can really make a difference to the girls who face sexual harassment? Should more and more ways be developed for overcoming such situations? Share your views in the comments below.
Image & Article Source – bustle.com