Bystander Intervention, Safety and Tips for intervening
The Bystander Effect predicts that people are less likely to help others when there are more people around a potentially dangerous situation. There are many reasons people might not step up to intervene in these situations.
We want to stop these incidents before they occur. We encourage you to intervene if you see something happening to a peer on campus. There are a number of different techniques that you can do when and if a risky situation arises. There is always something you can do to help, even if it is just to pick up your phone and call the police.
Our goal is to change the culture on the LU campus by creating a community of leaders and active bystanders. Things to consider before intervening in a risky situation:
1. Notice a critical situation
Bystanders first must notice the incident-taking place. It's important to become attune to what situations may be risky. For example, if you're at a party, and you see someone stumbling as they're being led into a different room or your friend has a partner that is very controlling. These are potentially dangerous situations that need attention. However, sometimes it can be hard to recognize them as dangerous if you’re unsure of what’s happening.
2. Recognize that situation as problematic
By "problematic," we mean a situation wherein there is risk of sexual or domestic violence occurring in the near future.
3. Develop a feeling of personal responsibility to do something
It has been found that often, people believe that someone else will help in a situation where there are many people around. This is especially true if you do not directly know the potential victim. However, it is important to realize that others may also be thinking the same thing. If you're unsure if you should do something, ask a friend what they think -- it might be the case that they've been thinking the same thing.
4. Believe you have the skills and knowledge to intervene
5. Consciously decide to help
The choice to intervene is an intentional decision reached through this process.
There are many thoughts that might interrupt this process. Think about whether or not you have ever thought of any of the following reasons or heard others describe these thoughts...
"Nobody else thinks this is a problem..." Many times, people think that no else thinks the situation is a problem because no one is stepping in to stop it. So, many people may internally disagree with a situation, but outwardly do nothing.
"I don't want to embarrass myself..." Often, people are afraid of embarrassing themselves or those involved in the situation. This is a very legitimate fear, but it is important to weigh the consequences of a potentially embarrassing moment with the consequences of experiencing sexual violence or other harmful situations.
Diffusion of Responsibility
"Someone else will take care of that..." Shockingly, research shows that the more people there are witnessing a potentially dangerous situation, the less likely it is that anyone individual will intervene because people assume that someone else will take care of it.
Fear of Getting Hurt
"What if I get hurt trying to help…" This is a very legitimate fear that we want you to consider. We always, always, always want you to consider your personal safety before intervening. However, there is always something you can do to help, even if it is simply calling the police.
So, what can you do to intervene?
The following are steps you can take to keep yourself and others around you safe.
- Educate yourself about interpersonal violence and share this information with friends
- Confront friends who make excuses for other peoples abusive behavior
- Speak up against racist, sexist, and homophobic jokes or remarks
When attempting to help, it is helpful to remember the 4 D's of intervention:
- Distract - Find a way to distract the participants from what is happening. This could look like changing the subject, mentioning another activity like getting food, or others actions.
- Delegate - If you are not comfortable intervening, find someone who is. You might call law enforcement or other friends, talk to the bartender, or talk to others around.
- Delay - If you are not sure you should intervene, try to delay the situation until you can get more information. This might look like going to the bathroom with a potential victim, turning on a TV, or other behaviors.
- Direct - If you feel comfortable, the best way might be to directly intervene and ask those involved what is going on.
Remember, any situation that threatens physical harm to yourself or another student should be assessed carefully. Always consider your personal safety before intervening. Contact the Langston University Police Department at (405) 466-3366 if assistance is needed.
Tips for intervening
In a situation potentially involving sexual assault, relationship violence, or stalking:
- Approach everyone as a friend
- Do not be antagonistic
- Avoid using violence
- Be honest and direct whenever possible
- Recruit help if necessary
- Keep yourself safe
- If things get out of hand or become too serious, contact the police