Whistles Against Street Harassment

In collaboration with VCU’s Grace E. Harris Leadership Institute, VCU Police is launching a new initiative in 2022: Whistles Against Street Harassment. This initiative centers on community members using a simple tool, a whistle. The whistle serves two functions: first, as a practical tool for targets of street harassment or bystanders to interrupt the act and draw attention; second, as a conversation starter on the subject of street harassment.

What is street harassment?

Street harassment is unwanted and intrusive behavior in a public space. It can include catcalling, kissing noises, horn honking, staring, unwanted conversations, and more.

Who does it happen to?

Anyone can be a target of street harassment. It happens most often to women, but it can happen to anyone regardless of gender, gender expression, sexual orientation, or race.

Why a whistle?

Using a whistle can draw the attention of bystanders if you feel uncomfortable or threatened. It can also scare away your harasser. Bystanders can use a whistle to help break the interaction and catch the attention of others to help. If criminal activity is occuring, or you feel unsafe, contact VCU Police. 

When should I blow the whistle?

Anytime someone impedes or trespasses on your personal space, or otherwise makes you uncomfortable or unsafe, you can use the whistle. If the harassment escalates to threatening behavior or unwanted touching, report it to VCU Police. If criminal activity is occuring, contact VCU Police. 

What else can I do to deter or prevent street harassment?

Look out for others: if you hear a whistle, or notice that someone is receiving unwanted attention, ask if they need help. Educate yourself and others on what street harassment is and call it out when you see it; tell the harasser to stop.

If you see individuals harassing community members on VCU’s campuses, please contact VCU Police and provide a location and description of the activity.

How can I get a free whistle?

VCU Police will make whistles available in fall 2022. Updates will be posted on this page and on the department’s social media accounts. 

Resources

  • Call VCU Police 24/7: (804) VCU-1234 / (804) 828-1234
  • Download and use the free LiveSafe app to connect with VCU Police directly at any time. Users can send in texts, photos, audio files and video files. Messages are monitored 24/7.
  • Ramsafe Escort Service: (804) 828-SAFE (7233)
  • University Counseling Services (counseling.vcu.edu)
  • Info on street harassment and bystander intervention: Right to Be (righttobe.org) and Stop Street Harassment (stopstreetharassment.org)