Six Steps to Bystander Action
- Notice an occurrence out of the ordinary
- Decide “in your
gut” that something is amiss or unacceptable
- Ask yourself, "Could
I play a role here?"
Assess your options for giving
help (See Active Bystander Strategies)
Determine the potential risks
of taking action.
- If no one intervenes, what will likely happen?
- Is someone else better placed to respond?
- What would be my purpose in responding?
Decide whether to act, at the time or later
- Are there risks to myself? (See Why Bystanders
Don't Act below)
- Are there risks to others (e.g. potential retaliation
against person being "helped")?
- Is there a low-risk option?
- How could I reduce risks?
- Is there more information I can get
to better assess the situation?
(adapted and expanded from Darley & Latane’s
Bystander Intervention Model)
For some examples of situations, see Responding to Situations.
Why Bystanders Don't Act
According to Mary Rowe of the MIT Ombuds Office,
bystanders often hesitate to act because...
- They fear loss of relationships,
with the problem person or with others who may disapprove of action.
- They fear retaliation, especially if the problem person is powerful.
- They fear embarrassment, especially if they may not be believed or they
may be viewed as troublemakers, or as violating other community norms.
- They feel a lack of competence, or uncertainty about what action
would be best.
- They believe someone else will take action (perhaps
someone else with more authority or expertise) .