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Bystander Intervention in Action

By Megan Webber - Guest Writer
On March 9, 2016

Let’s set the scene: you and some friends are at a party. From the corner of your eye, you see a girl and a guy talking. The girl is leaning against a wall to hold herself up. You think to yourself that she looks like she’s had too much to drink. You see the guy try to kiss her and she looks like she’s not into it. She pushes him away but they continue to talk. You’re paying more attention to what is going on with them this time. You see the same thing happen again. You see the guy put his arms around her and the girl try to unsuccessful squirm away. You’re starting to feel uncomfortable. The guy pulls on the girl’s arm in an attempt to get her to walk outside with him. The girl gets up and you watch as she has to lean on him to make it outside. What do you do?

We all have the potential to step up and intervene to prevent potentially dangerous situations from occurring. Bystander Intervention centers on the Golden Rule: treat others as you would like to be treated. It can be applied to any situation. In the case of the earlier scene, how much harm would have been done to walk over and ask the girl if she was feeling okay? What about if you asked one of her friends to go check on her because she looked uncomfortable? The important part is doing SOMETHING. Be an active bystander and do something instead of a passive one who does nothing.

Being an active bystander is about safely intervening before a dangerous situation happens. A few ways to be an active bystander: distract the person acting inappropriately or aggressively, make sure the potential victim makes it home safe, get a friend or two to help you intervene, or act like you need to speak with the potential victim privately and lead them away from the situation. Put yourself in that person’s shoes. Help them make the first move to help themselves. 

For more information on an active bystander’s role in bullying, visit

To take the pledge to end sexual violence (and find out information), visit

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