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Bystander Intervention

Research on bystander intervention has produced a great number of studies showing that the presence of other people in a critical situation reduces the likelihood that an individual will help. When there is only one bystander in an emergency, help is more easily given because it is clear who has the responsibility to intervene. When there are multiple bystanders present, the diffusion of responsibility is distributed amongst a group. This leads to individuals feeling less responsible to help a victim. It is our hope that in the case you are in an emergency, you will choose to be an active bystander and intervene.

There are many resources on campus, but you play an important role in helping your friends get to those resources.

Bystander Steps:

  1. Notice an occurrence out of the ordinary.

  2. Decide in your “gut” if something is amiss or unacceptable.

  3. Ask yourself, “could I play a role here?”

  4. Assess your options for giving help.

  5. Determine potential risks for taking action.

  6. Decide whether to act now or later.

Being an active bystander doesn’t always mean a superhero act but can be as simple as saying you do not agree with a discriminatory and/or derogatory statement or action or even standing up against hazing.

You can also use active bystander strategies for other situations around campus, for instance discrimination, bias, academic integrity, hazing, gambling or any other situation that you determine may put others at risk and you have the ability to make a difference.

Bystander strategies could include:

  • Creating a distraction to help someone get out of any type of uncomfortable situation. Distractions could be spilling something, “accidentally” turning off the lights or asking to take a picture.

  • Directly informing someone that what they are saying is offensive.

  • Walking a friend over to CAPS if they have shared they are struggling.

  • Taking a person’s keys away after they have been drinking.

Other ideas on how to begin a bystander conversation in a non-medical emergency could be:

  • I have noticed that you have not been hanging out with us much lately. Is something going on?

  • I have not seen you in class lately. Is everything okay?

Bystander Intervention

Bystander Intervention
Interpersonal Violence

Alcohol and Other Drugs
Mental Health