Step UP! Bystander Intervention
Have you ever been concerned about a situation and wanted to help ... but didn't? You are not alone.
It is a common experience for people to witness something and want to help but not take action. Many problematic behaviors on college campuses involve witnesses, or bystanders. Why don't these bystanders help? What gets in the way?
This situation is more common than you might think, and is known as the bystander effect. Once one person starts to help, other people are more likely to come on board as helpers.
Step UP! Be a Leader. Make a Difference.
You can be that person who takes the action using these Five Steps and the 3 D’s:
1. Notice the event.
Observe! Be aware of your surroundings.
Pay attention to your gut. Does something seem off?
Watch for red flags. Is your friend acting differently than normal? Are some of their posts concerning you?
2. Interpret the event as a problem.
Is what you noticed a problem? If you’re uncertain, investigate. Look around to see if others are concerned. Ask others if they think the person needs help. Check in with the person directly. Ask, "Are you OK?"
3. Assume personal responsibility.
SEE something. SAY something. DO something.
If not you, then who? If you take the first step, others are likely to follow.
Speak up and clearly communicate what you plan to do. Saying, “I’m going to call 911” or “I’m going to check on them” makes follow through more likely.
Enlist others to Step UP with you. “I’ll go check in on her, you distract him.”
4. Know how to help. (SEEK)
Choose a course of action (direct or indirect) that best ensures the safety of all involved, including yourself.
Be a lifeguard, not a superhero. Lifeguards keep themselves safe by throwing a flotation device to a person in distress instead of jumping in.
You likely don’t have training to intervene in more complex situations – leave that to professionals and focus on getting a lifeline to your friends.
Intervene before a situation becomes a problem, crisis, or disaster.
For ongoing problems, check with experts on the best ways to talk with your friend.
What would the person in distress want? When in doubt, ask them! Use perspective taking to consider their point of view.
Be understanding and non-judgmental.
Use kindness to diffuse tension.
5. Implement the help. (3 D’s)
Take action. Speak up. Interrupt. Ask questions.
Diffuse the situation by causing a disruption. This could be as simple as asking a random question or spilling a glass of water.
Notify someone else who is capable of addressing the concern. This could be as simple as asking the person’s friend or roommate for help. It could be calling 911, notifying residence life staff, or contacting a helpline or another professional for help.
Step UP! Training
Step UP! Bystander Intervention Training can help us better understand how to apply these steps in situations such as:
- Alcohol and Alcohol Poisoning
- Sexual Assault
- Relationship Abuse
- Depression and Suicide Prevention
- Disordered Eating
- Academic Dishonesty
Learn skills to make a difference by being an active bystander.
Source: Step UP! is a pro-social behavior and bystander intervention program that educates students to be proactive in helping others. Step UP! has been implemented at over 1,000 schools in the nation.