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A Safe Community

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Prevention violence on campus is a community-wide responsibility - everyone needs to step up and do something to make sure our campus stays safe for everyone.  However, not everyone always will step up or they don't believe they know how to step up. 

The Bystander Effect

A bystander is someone in a crowd who sees a potentially dangerous situation and does nothing.  Researchers have often done experiments on a phenomenon called "The Bystander Effect."  For example, in 1968 researchers Darley & Latane conducted an experiment in which a student pretended to have a seizure and the experimenters recorded how often others stopped to help. When only one bystander was watching the scene, the student was helped 85% of the time. However, if there were five bystanders, the student was only helped 31% of the time.bystandereffect

This happens for two reasons: diffusion of responsibility and social pressure.  When there are more bystanders present, there is a diffusion of responsibility where people will oftentimes think that someone else will help.  But the thing is, everyone is thinking that - and then no one helps!  On the other hand, social pressure stops people from intervening in a different way.  If a dangerous situation is occurring, we will often look to other people to decide how to act.  If no one else appears bothered by the situation or is not taking action, we will think that if everyone else doesn't think it's a problem, it must not be.  But, again, everyone is thinking the same thing - and no one steps up and does anything.

Ways to Step Up+

Another reason why people don't step up is because they don't know how to help or what to do.  Here are a few simple ideas to help prevent sexual violence on campus.

  • Find a way to separate the two people. Talk to them about why you intervened. Be kind, but make sure you get your point across.
  • Create a distraction. Break up the two people by brining one away from the other, by saying something like, "Hey, I've been looking all over for you!" or "This party sucks. Let's go somewhere else."
  • Talk to the two people about postponing their relationship until both of them are sober enough to give enthusiastic, informed consent. Tell them you don't want to stop them from hooking up but just want them to wait until they are sober enough to really enjoy it.
  • Recruit other people to help. If you think there is a problem, chances are someone else does too. Ask your friends to help you step in and talk to the couple.

+ Adapted from William and Mary Sexual Assault Resource and Education

Step Up! Training

It's not uncommon to find situations in college where intervention may be necessary.  But not everyone steps up in those situations and intervention.  This is a choice than can be changed - are you ready to become an active bystander? 

The Step Up!  Bystander Intervention training program is a 1 hour training session that will teach you:

  • The 5 Decision Making Steps
  • Other Factors that Affect, including Perspective Taking
  • Strategies for Effective Helping
  • The S.E.E. Model: Safe, Early, Effective
  • Warning Signs, Action Steps and Resources

Learn more about the Step Up Bystander Intervention Training here.

Schedule a Step Up! Training Program.


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