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How to Be a Better Bystander on Campus

By Piper Blake
Web Content Contributor

Recently, I wrote about How to be Safe on Campus and while we need to keep ourselves safe, what about others keeping you safe? Being a bystander is the responsibility to say something if you see something. Bystander intervention is the idea that we all have a role to play in the prevention of violence in our community. On campus we are always passing by strangers, but we have a sense of when things are different around us. Being able to feel or see things that are suspicious and make a conscious decision to step in is a brave act that has positive outcomes. I want to detail a few ways to take action to be better bystanders and supporters of people.

See Something, Say Something

Staying aware of your surrounding is important on a day to day basis. Having watchful eyes can spot suspicious behavior or something that makes you uncomfortable. This can keep you and those around you safe by knowing who and where the threat is. Even if you mistake signs as threatening you are still being a good bystander–better safe than sorry. Reporting to authorities or anyone that is has a management title is the first step. When people stay silent about the things they see can lead to more damage being done. Knowing the signs and when to speak up is important.

Take Action

Interfering in a situation can protect victims from being preyed upon. Even interrupting a conversation is a sign for the perpetrator to back off. They will realize that people see what they are doing and it’s not okay. It is nerve racking to step in because of the fear of starting a fight or making a scene. However, you will be the one making a difference and preventing trauma for the victim. Telling a friend and both of you stepping in together is a great idea because then you aren’t alone and have back up if there is a confrontation. Taking action has many forms and depends on the situation but doing nothing is the wrong decision.

Support Victims

Not all victims realize that they are even a victim in the first place. This can be due to intoxication or their inability to read the signs. That is why intervention is needed. However, once the victims are away from the threat, they will need help in some way. Whether is getting home or needing emotional support because of the preparator it’s your responsibility to get them help. Taking on responsibility for another person and their safety is a big deal but has last effects. Not only will you know what to do the next time you see a bad situation, you will also have impacted a person’s life and saved them from distress.

Being a bystander is a responsibility everyone carries every day. We may not be aware of it, but it is always there. That is why we need to know what to do to be better. I hope that these steps will help you be able to know when to intervene and how to help another person out of a situation. Don’t just be an onlooker be the one that makes a difference.

Featured illustration by Piper Blake.

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