Anti-Harassment Training for High School and College

Too many students face harassment and bullying in high school and college, including when participating in extracurricular activities. While harassment and bullying both tend to be underreported, particularly among BIPOC, large-scale surveys have found that:

  • In 2019, 87% of LGBTQ youth were harassed or assaulted in high schools based on their identity 
  • 25% to 40% of students experience being bullied in college, across racial and gender groups
  • 75% of BIPOC students hear disparaging remarks about their race sometimes or often.
  • 48% of all HS students, male and female, experienced some form of sexual harassment in the 2010–11 school year, and the majority of those students (87 percent) said it had a negative effect on them.
  • 40-62% of women are sexually harassed in college 

The last large study to assess the rate of sexual harassment in college speech and debate, which was published in 2001, found that nearly 80% of women had been sexually harassed while participating with their teams, at camps or at tournaments.

Movements inside the speech and debate community have long made clear that bullying and harassment are problems. In the wake of Me Too and the murder of George Floyd, calls for change were heightened. 

In 2017, the WDI decided to expand its efforts to make speech and debate more inclusive by launching a training program to combat harassment and bullying in high school and college speech and debate environments. 

Since 2018, we have provided in person, virtual and online training modules designed to make spaces safer for women, LGBTQ, gender non-conforming and BIPOC speech and debate participants. 

Our trainings are developed based on the latest in anti-harassment and bullying research and tailored to the speech and debate community, including summer camp programs and college teams. 

As educators of high school and college students, the Women’s Debate Institute believes it is critical for every staff and faculty member at organizations serving youth in debate to be effectively trained in preventing, identifying, and responding to bullying and harassment. 

What is included in this training?

All training sessions will be customized to the needs of the individual program. However, our trainings typically delve into the following topics.

  1. Challenges: We will discuss the ways in which biases intertwine with typical adolescent behaviors to snowball into an atmosphere of bullying and harassment if left unchecked. Relevant issues such as microaggressions, call-outs and making amends will be addressed. We will also identify the aspects of speech and debate team policies, practices and culture that provide room for bad behavior to occur.
  2. Prevention: We will teach you how to create a speech and debate program with a culture of fun and respect. We will provide your program with the information needed to craft effective policies, set clear boundaries, deliver consistent responses to mistakes, and better understand the impact of harassment and bullying. 
  3. Intervention: We help you learn how to identify and respond to warning signs for harassment and bullying. We focus on empowering both coaches and students to stand up on behalf of one another through an evidence-based technique called “upstander intervention.” This method of response builds community and helps to shut down bad behavior before it spirals out to damage individuals and the team.

The core training course is an approximately 3-hour long session designed for the entire faculty and staff of your youth-serving organization, as well as students in college settings. In addition to this course, the WDI offers optional modules, including an overview of Mandatory Reporting* obligations, navigating conversations that may trigger mandatory reporter obligations with youth, and online course modules that cover the basics of the live training. If there is an additional aspect to this training that would be helpful for your program, please inquire at womensdebateinstitute@gmail.com and we can work with you to create a program that meets your needs.

*The Mandatory Reporting module is intended to be an overview of this topic and should be supplemented by the organization to provide state-specific information, as mandatory reporting laws vary across states.

How was this training developed?

Our trainings include material from the American Camping Association, the US Department of Health and Human Services, Safe Zone Training, Green Dot Training, Futures without Violence and the American Educational Research Association. We are constantly updating our curriculum by keeping tabs on relevant research and taking courses aimed at increasing youth safety, fighting bias and creating more inclusive environments. At the same time, we are a team of experienced communication professionals and savvy current and former speech and debate coaches and competitors. We leverage that experience to adapt best practices to the unique speech and debate environment. 

What makes this training different from others?

WDI’s training sessions are conducted by live, skilled trainers with experience in speech and debate. Our work always begins with a one on one consultation to understand your program and needs. Our sessions are interactive, with opportunities for staff and students to respond to specific scenarios and develop actionable ways to create a culture that prevents bullying and harassment at your organization.

While this training includes general content about preventing and responding to bullying and harassment in high school and college settings, our training team has used our extensive experience working at and with speech and debate institutes, teams and organizations to make all aspects of this training relevant to our unique culture. 

Who are our partners and what do they have to say about us?

We have worked with an extensive array of organizations, including the National Speech and Debate Association, Washington Urban Debate League, Bay Area Urban Debate League, DebateDrills, Public Forum Academy, LearningLeaders (international partner, China), and Victory Briefs Institute. 

Anti-Harassment Training Partners

Our clients have given us glowing reviews, including:

“We at DebateDrills work with hundreds of students each year at all levels of debate, and have found our training with the Women’s Debate Institute to be very educational, thorough, and sensitive to the particulars of our organization. Working with the WDI is a breeze; they’re responsive to our needs and care a lot about ensuring that the training that our coaches receive is top-notch. We’re always so thankful for the work they do and will be working with them frequently in the coming years!”

How do I learn more?

Please contact us at womensdebateinstitute@gmail.com for additional information or for a specific proposal that details length, fees and format of the training sessions. 

We are currently booking live virtual training sessions for Summer 2022 and space is limited, so please reach out now!