Have you ever witnessed harassing, abusive, or discriminatory behavior, either online or in-person? Have you ever experienced it in the workplace? Most Americans have witnessed these types of behaviors—but less than a third actually intervene. And many times, the more people who are present to witness an event, the less likely they are to help (this phenomenon is known as the bystander effect).
So how does one become an active bystander, someone who intervenes or challenges problematic behavior, whether it’s harassment or an everyday microaggression?
The key is to intervene early and often, and remember the 3 D’s:
- Direct: Address a situation directly. For instance, check in on the person at risk to make sure they’re okay or confront the person behaving poorly if it is safe to do so.
- Distract: Create a diversion in order to de-escalate the situation. Interrupt and change the subject, for instance, or try to use humor to diffuse the situation.
- Delegate: Get help from someone else more capable of handling the situation. This could mean enlisting the help of a friend or co-worker or even alerting the authorities.
Being an active bystander takes courage and practice. We don’t always get it right every time, but it’s important to keep trying—even small steps are helpful. And when other people see you speaking up against a moral transgression and doing the right thing, it encourages them to do the same. It’s crucial to keep educating yourself and others about issues that matter.
NewPoint’s e-learning series Just Say Stop is a training solution for sexual assault prevention that emphasizes bystander intervention and targets both the military and college markets. Click HERE for a sample or Contact Us Today.