At Cal Poly, we believe that all students are capable of safely intervening in a situation that may be making others feel unsafe. We hope that through education and awareness that students can begin to recognize questionable situations and develop the skills needed to intervene. Together, we can create a safer and more comfortable campus for all students, faculty and staff.
Being an Active Bystander
Some simple steps to becoming an Active Bystander:
- Notice the situation: Be aware of your surroundings.
- Interpret it as a problem: Do I recognize that someone needs help? Do they look uncomfortable?
- Feel responsible to act: See yourself as being part of the solution to help.
- Know what to do: Educate yourself on what to do.
- Intervene safely: Take action but be sure to keep yourself safe.
How to Intervene Safely:
- Tell someone! Being with others is a good idea when a situation looks dangerous.
- Ask the person directly if they are OK. This could be an opportunity for them to get out of the situation.
- Ask the person if he/she wants to leave and make sure that he/she gets home safely.
Bystander Intervention Strategies
Three parts: 1. State your feelings, 2. Name the behavior, 3. State how you want the person to respond. This focuses on your feelings rather than criticizing the other person.
Example: “I feel _______when you _______. Please don’t do that anymore.”
Remember, you don’t have to speak to communicate, sometimes a disapproving look can be far more powerful than words.
If you are worried about ruining the “mood,” of a situation, this could be the way to go. By making an off topic joke or comment, you could divert a perpetuator’s attention away from the person they are making uncomfortable.
There is safety and power in numbers.
Best used with someone who has a clear pattern of inappropriate behavior where many examples can be presented as evidence of their problem.
Prevent someone from dehumanizing their targets
Example: What if someone said your girlfriend deserved to be raped or called your mother a whore?”
Reframe the intervention as caring and non-critical
Example: “Hey Chad.....as your friend I’ve gotta tell you that getting a girl drunk to have sex with her isn’t cool, and could get you in a lot of trouble. Don’t do it.”
Snaps someone out of their “sexist comfort zone.”
Example: Ask a man harassing a woman on the street for directions or the time.
(Adapted from Men Can Stop Rape, www.mencanstoprape.org, 2006)