Assessing Situations

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Assessing Situations
Responding to
Active Bystander Strategies
Resources on Campus
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Six Steps to Bystander Action

  1. Notice an occurrence out of the ordinary
  2. Decide “in your gut” that something is amiss or unacceptable
  3. Ask yourself, "Could I play a role here?"
    • If no one intervenes, what will likely happen?
    • Is someone else better placed to respond?
    • What would be my purpose in responding?
  4. Assess your options for giving help (See Active Bystander Strategies)
  5. Determine the potential risks of taking action.
    • 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?
  6. Decide whether to act, at the time or later

(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...

  1. They fear loss of relationships, with the problem person or with others who may disapprove of action.
  2. They fear retaliation, especially if the problem person is powerful.
  3. They fear embarrassment, especially if they may not be believed or they may be viewed as troublemakers, or as violating other community norms.
  4. They feel a lack of competence, or uncertainty about what action would be best.
  5. They believe someone else will take action (perhaps someone else with more authority or expertise) .
When to get help

...when potential for physical harm exists

...when professional medical help is called for

...when you don't feel safe taking action yourself

See Resources on Campus for more information.

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