Bystander Effect: Learn it, Teach About It, & Prevent It
A bystander is any person who is present at an event or incident but does NOT take part.
Bystander Intervention involves developing the awareness, skills, and courage needed to intervene in a situation when another individual needs help. Bystander intervention allows individuals to send powerful messages about what is acceptable and expected behavior in our community.
[5 Step Decision Making Model]
- Notice the Event
- Interpret the Event as a problem
- Take personal responsibility to intervene
- Decide how you are going to intervene
- Decide to Intervene
[Rules for Bystander Intervention]
Do NOT put yourself at risk.
Do NOT make the situation worse.
- Intervene at the earliest point possible
- Look for early warning signs of trouble!
- Intervening does not necessarily mean confronting
- Ask for help!
[The 3 D’s of Bystander Intervention]
Direct – Directly intervening, in the moment, to prevent a problem situation from happening
Delegate – Seeking help from another individual, often someone who is authorized to represent others, such as a police officer or campus official.
Distract – Interrupting the situation without directly confronting the offender.
Bystander Intervention is a philosophy and strategy for prevention of various types of violence, including bullying, sexual harassment, sexual assault, and intimate partner violence. With these resources, we hope that you are able to learn tactics to prevent sexual assault and help create inclusiveness and equality.
Bystander Intervention is based on the fact that people make decisions and continue behaviors based on the reactions they get from others. For instance, commonly-asked questions in adult bystander intervention trainings are: Why don’t we pick our noses in public? or Why don’t we eat hot dogs for breakfast? The answer, once analyzed by the participants, tends to examine the expectations social interactions place on us, and the cultural conditioning and norms taught to us through subtle reactions from others. A question for secondary students might be: If you wore an outfit to school one day and no one said anything, but everyone made a horrified face at you, would you wear it again?
What makes this approach different from previous approaches to sexual assault prevention?
- Discourages victim blaming
- Offers the chance to change social norms
- Shifts responsibility to both men and women
Linda Langford for PreventConnect, 2012 In this podcast, Linda Langford discusses the ways that we teach bystander intervention. Addressing training and educational approaches to increasing abilities to intervene in violent situations may improve prevention efforts. This recording is based on a presentation Langford offered at the “Bystander Intervention: From Its Roots to the Road Ahead” Conference.
The idea that these social norm-shaping reactions to someone’s words or behavior could prevent violence is helpful only to the extent that the community realizes their power, notices the problem behaviors and attitudes, feels responsible, and has the skills to respond. Any one of us is a bystander any time we are interacting with others – we can either promote positive and healthy attitudes and behaviors, or harmful ones.
- For video clips, please visit: Movies, documentaries, and video clips related to Violence Against Women
- Evaluation of the Green Dot Bystander Intervention to Reduce Interpersonal Violence Among College Students Across Three Campuses, 2014. Ann L. Coker, Bonnie S. Fisher, Heather M. Bush, Suzanne C. Swan, Corrine M. Williams, Emily R. Clear, Sarah DeGue.
- Evaluation of Green Dot: An Active Bystander Intervention to Reduce Sexual Violence on College Campuses, 2011. Ann L. Coker, Patricia G. Cook-Craig, Corrine M. Williams, Bonnie S. Fisher, Emily R. Clear, Lisandra S. Garcia, and Lea M. Hegge
- The Men’s Program: Does It Impact College Men’s Self-Reported Bystander Efficacy and Willingness to Intervene?, 2011. Jennifer Langhinrichsen-Rohling, John D. Foubert, Hope M. Brasfield, Brent Hill, and Shannon Shelley-Tremblay
- Rehearsing for Real Life: The Impact of the InterACT Sexual Assault Prevention Program on Self-Reported Likelihood of Engaging in Bystander Interventions, 2011. Courtney E. Ahrens, Marc D. Rich, and Jodie B. Ullman
- Sisterhood May Be Powerful for Reducing Sexual and Intimate Partner Violence: An Evaluation of the Bringing in the Bystander In-Person Program with Sorority Members, 2011. Mary M. Moynihan, Victoria L. Banyard, Julie S. Arnold, Robert P. Eckstein, and Jane G. Stapleton
- The Social Justice Roots of the Mentors in Violence Prevention Model and Its Application in a High School Setting, 2011. Jackson Katz, H. Alan Heisterkamp, and Wm. Michael Fleming
- Encouraging Bystander Intervention for Sexual Violence Prevention. Foubert J., Tabachnick J., and Schewe P. (2010) In Kaufman, K (Eds.), The Prevention of Sexual Violence: A Practitioner’s Sourcebook. Holyoke, MA: NEARI Press.
- Crisis Intervention Services Videos (YouTube Channel): They have 69 different playlists with videos on: Healthy relationships, Gender Stereotypes, Bystander Intervention, Sexual Assault – Survivor Stories, Bullying, Songs about Consent, Prevention Programs, Consent, Domestic Violence/Dating Violence, Sexual Assault, Victim Blaming, and Rape Culture and the Media.https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCkk_fC9Onncbmb89FOD1VEA/playlists?view=1&shelf_id=1&sort=dd
- Virginia Tech
- William and Mary
- That’s Not Cool
- Review of Bystander Approaches in Support of Preventing Violence Against Women
- Engaging Bystanders In Sexual Violence Prevention, a webpage from the National Sexual Violence Resource Center
- Engaging Bystanders In Sexual Violence Prevention, a eLearning unit from the National Sexual Violence Resource Center
- Special Issue: Engaging Communities to End Sexual Violence: Current Research on Bystander Focused Prevention, Violence Against Women (June 2011, Vol. 17, No. 6)
- Bystanders as agents of primary prevention, Partners in Social Change, Washington Coalition Of Sexual Assault Programs, 2011
- Penn State: The mother of all teachable moments for the bystander approach, by Jackson Katz, made available through the NSVRC
- Penn State & the bystander approach: Laying bare the dynamics in male peer culture, by Jackson Katz, made available through the NSVRC
Bystander Intervention in Spanish Speaking Communities:
- Visit the CALCASA blog to hear a podcast from Emiliano Diaz de Leon of TAASA, speaking about culturally relevant prevention work in Spanish speaking communities.
- NSVRC Bystander Blog
- PreventConnect Podcast: Interview with authors Christine Gidycz, Ph.D., and Alan Berkowitz, Ph.D., discussing their article “Preventing Sexual Aggression among College Men: An Evaluation of a Social Norms and Bystander Intervention Program.”
- Previous interview with Alan Berkowitz
- PreventConnect Blog: Hollaback: I’ve Got Your Back – Being active bystanders to prevent violence
- PreventConnect Video: Creative ways to measure prevention (bystander example)
- PreventConnect Podcast Interview with Joan Tabachnick, Engaging bystanders in sexual violence prevention
- PreventConnect eLearning Unit: Engaging Bystanders in Violence Against Women Prevention
- PreventConnect Web Conference: Engaging Bystanders in Violence Against Women Prevention and Bystander Intervention: Building the Evidence Base for Sexual and Domestic Violence Prevention
- PreventConnect Podcast: Jackson Katz, Ph.D., reflects on the Bystander Intervention: From its Roots to the Road Ahead conference held on May 31-June 1, 2012.
- PreventConnect Podcast: Why and how we teach/facilitate bystander intervention, an interview with Linda Langford, Sc.D.
- PreventConnect Podcast: A podcast about bystander intervention from Sweden’s Men for Gender Equity
- PreventConnect Podcast: A podcast featuring Jeff O’Brien, National Director of Mentors in Violence Prevention, describes the conference “Bystander Intervention: From its Roots to the Road Ahead.”
- CALCASA blog: “TV can increase positive bystander behavior”
Other Resources from the University of the West of England site for The Intervention Initiative:
- “Who are You?” Resource (2011) from New Zealand – a scene of drinking & intended sexual assault with multiple endings https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9zr1oxEbdsw#t=12
- Bystander intervention in University: US resource with students acting scenes. Rice University/Becky’s Fund (2014):
- if you were the sister friend mother (and supervisor)
- if you were the friend (domestic abuse)
- Campaign to End Sexual Assault on Campuses – short clips of bystander interventions (US) –https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=C_8QgL3kAMQ
- OneStudent.org – what is a bystander and what does it mean to be an engaged bystander? (US) –https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1ycYPmzisfk
- A UW-Madison lesson shown to students on how to intervene in acquaintance rape – change the situation (distraction) with discussion https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=R6-PluWcNwU
- Hidden cameras for the “What would you do” US TV programme film actors in a bar in New Jersey – how do bystanders react to a man attempting to coerce a drunk woman? (2010) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6QcLs98NeJY
- Hidden camera at Liverpool Street Station London – an actor pretends to be ill & gets help sooner when well dressed. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OSsPfbup0ac
- This video helps you understand how to help someone who has been sexually assaulted:
- https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HrfC90dd9Ks&list=PLEoefJJTH2noWyL xG-Jeyio-Ebu-M5NXt&index=4
- This video highlights the power of individuals to make a difference by intervening in violent or potentially violent situations: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rKRWtxRCrgs&list=PLEoefJJTH2noWyL xG-Jeyio-Ebu-M5NXt&index=5
- This video describes the steps to take if you or someone you know are being stalked:
- https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WKRdXxR0sFI&index=6&list=PLEoefJJ TH2noWyLxG-Jeyio-Ebu-M5NXt
- This video emphasizes how critical it can be to intervene in a dangerous or potentially dangerous situation:https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vpWUskaIo60&index=12&list=PLEoefJJTH2noWyLxG-Jeyio-Ebu-M5NXt
- An interactive graphic novel developed by students in the US about how to stop sexual assault https://www.andrew.cmu.edu/course/53-610/
- A video by the Welsh government about victim blaming