We can work together to stop bullying and violence in our schools.
Why Bystanders? A bystander is someone who sees or hears something happening to someone else. Bystanders face an important choice when someone is in potential danger: do nothing or do something.
Ignore it? = Doing Nothing
Wish it wasn’t happening? = Doing Nothing
Sometimes people think that all bystanders are people who simply stand by and watch or listen. But there are bystanders who stand up. Often, bystanders can have a strong, positive impact by taking action. We want to help you DO SOMETHING, SAFELY (See Safety Section below). Every situation is different, every person is different. There is not one“recipe” for how to be a positive bystander. But below you will find some ideas to put in your bystander tool box.
In situations of alcohol and sexual assault, there is often someone who can intervene to help protect a potential victim. In the video here, you see a bystander questioning a person who clearly is planning to leave a party with someone who is intoxicated. Another bystander comes over to offer to bring the girl to her house instead. Two different bystanders taking two different actions both helped prevent a potential sexual assault. (Remember, someone who is under the influence cannot give consent to sexual activity; it can be illegal to have sex with someone who is under the influence. Additionally, in NH, the legal age of consent is 16.)
Power based personal violence is any form of violence in which someone uses power, intimidation or control to harm another person. This can include partner violence, sexual violence, stalking, bullying, child abuse, or elder abuse. We all play a part in ending power based violence in our communities. Being an active bystander is a tough job; there are all kinds of things that can get in our way when we feel uncomfortable about something. Recognizing that something that is happening is wrong or makes you uncomfortable is the first step! YOU have the ability to stop bullying, sexual assault or other violence from happening. Remember that your safety is as important as anyone else’s. If you have reason to be concerned about your safety or if you are alone, consider alternatives like calling the police or getting help from someone nearby.
The 3 Ds of being an Active Bystander
The 3Ds are the variety of strategies you can use when making the choice to intervene. They can help you to say no to violence in a way that works best for you. The 3Ds are: Direct, Delegate, and Distract.
Directly inserting yourself into a potential situation and stopping it by addressing those who are involved.
Asking someone who seems uncomfortable or unsure if they are ok.
Pulling your friend away from an unsafe situation.
Telling your buddies that you think their joke is offensive.
If you feel unsafe or uncomfortable stepping in yourself, getting someone to intervene for you who might be more equipped or better able to handle the situation.
Calling the police when it looks like a verbal argument might turn physical.
Asking your friend to check on someone who might be unsafe.
Alerting a teacher to a situation that you feel is unsafe.
Defusing a situation by distracting those involved and interrupting the choice to commit violence.
Breaking up a heated argument by asking for directions or to borrow a phone from someone involved.
Causing a distraction like spilling a drink or pretending to trip on something can likely interrupt a potentially aggressive situation.
Shouting "Moose!" This is bound to get EVERYONE'S attention; and, stop a situation! Success!
Tips for Intervening
No two situations are the same. To intervene effectively, you will need to assess what's happening and figure out the best way to approach it.
Try to engage the potential perpetrator by interrupting, changing the subject, asking for their help with something, etc. Give the target time to walk away or link up with other friends.
Listen to your instincts. If others are ignoring a potential sexual assault, maybe you can be the one to intervene.
Use humor to de-escalate a
situation. It may feel like
you’re making light of
but a joke can take
the edge off a
Get a friend or two to intervene with you.
A campaign from The University of New Hampshire Information, resources and a bystander’s “playbook” from William & Mary College
Circle of 6
An app designed to help you stay safe, stay connected, and prevent violence before it happens.
Call it like you see it
Be direct, but not confrontational. Naming the behavior may be enough to stop a potential perpetrator. Use non-verbal cues: A pointed stare or change in your body language (like moving to stand with a potential target) may interrupt what is happening.
Remember that your safety comes first. For more ideas about how to intervene, check out these links for help and guidance.