Bystander Intervention

What is a bystander?

Bystanders are individuals that observe or witness an event or situation they are not directly involved in. Bystanders have the potential to do nothing, contribute to negative behavior or attempt to make a positive impact on the situation.

What does it mean to be a Prosocial Bystander?

Prosocial bystanders are individuals that intervene to make a positive impact on the situation. We expect our community members to act as prosocial bystanders in risky or harmful situations such as alcohol poisoning or drug overdoses, bullying or harassment, relationship violence, stalking, sexual violence, or any other form of interpersonal violence. To safely intervene and care for your community members is what it means to Be Orange.

How can I intervene?

Here are some helpful strategies you can use to safely intervene in different scenarios. It can be helpful to practice or think about what strategies would make you feel the safest and most comfortable in different situations. Remember: every person has their own comfort levels and style of communication, there is no one correct way to intervene in any given situation.

  • Be Direct: Direct tell the person that their behavior or language is concerning or unsafe.
  • Bring in the Professionals: If things become too serious, contact emergency personnel like the Barnes Center at The Arch health and wellness team, Department of Public Safety or the police.
  • Use Code Words: Agree on a word or phrase before going somewhere, and if anyone becomes uncomfortable, they can signal by using the word. Once the code word is used, everyone who came together will all leave together, no questions asked.
  • Create a Distraction: Deescalate a situation by diverting attention away from the immediate problem or problematic language.
  • Encourage Group Support: Recruit other people or friends to intervene together.
  • Use Humor: Make light of the problematic language and diffuse the situation from escalating.
  • Make it Personal: Relate the situation to something more personal.
  • Shift the Focus: Shift the focus to yourself to avoid being confrontational about the other person’s language or behaviors.
  • Show Support: Show support to the person and let them know you are there for them if they need help.