When Street Harassment Comes Indoors

When Street Harassment Comes Indoors:

A Sample of New York City Service Agency and Union Responses to Street Harassment

Project Partners: Worker Institute at Cornell University and Hollaback!

Researchers:  KC Wagner, Beth A. Livingston, and Sarah T. Diaz.


  • More than 86 percent of respondents had received a report of street harassment in the past two years from a client, constituent or consumer, while 96 percent reported that they or a colleague had been targeted by street harassment.
  • Ninety-six percent of respondents indicated they responded to reports of street harassment by listening, while only 20 percent referred the complainant to another colleague or agency, and as little as five percent called security or a city authority.
  • More than 92 percent of respondents reported an interest in receiving increased resources for staff and clients, constituents and/or consumers on how to deal with street harassment; 70 percent of respondents felt that their clients, constituents or consumers should be provided with information and resources on how to deal with street harassment, regardless of organizational mission.

Next Steps:

  • Resource development such as a comprehensive resource guide for service providers.
  • Public education efforts such as incorporation of an anti-street harassment curriculum into anti-bullying and sexual education efforts.
  • Training for 311 and 911 operators on how to respond to and effectively track reports of street harassment.
  • Hold community safety audits, a United Nations-recognized best practice for assessing the level of safety from gender-based violence in a community. To conduct an audit, you gather teams of 5-7 community members from a variety of backgrounds and who can offer unique perspectives about safety and inclusion issues. The teams survey high-risk areas, assessing factors such as the gender make-up of those in the space, how those present are using the space and lighting levels of the space. Community safety audits result in increased community engagement and recommendations of concrete improvements.
  • Engagement of the local business community to train their proprietors and staffs about street harassment and how to respond to reports of harassment, and the establishment of “safe zones” within their stores.
  • Workshops on street harassment and how to intervene safely if you witness street harassment. Importantly, these workshops should include both community members and officials and their staffs, so that those who act as liaisons with community members are prepared to respond to complaints of street harassment.

Click here to see the fact sheet and here for the full report.