Active Bystander Strategies

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Below are some approaches you could consider. This list is by no means exhaustive — you could probably think of others for any given situation.

Use your judgment and common sense. The most effective time to act may be later, not on the spot, and you may want to get advice before taking steps.

Of course, you should not choose a course of action that puts you or anyone else at risk of harm. Know your own limits and "comfort zone", and use your common sense. Familiarize yourself with the Resources on Campus to get guidance for yourself or refer people appropriately.

Click on each strategy to see examples and tips. You can also look at strategies relevant to some typical situations.

Strategies in the Moment

Name or acknowledge an offense

Point to the "elephant in the room"

Interrupt the behavior

Publicly support an aggrieved person

Use body language to show disapproval

Use humor (with care)

Encourage dialogue

Help calm strong feelings

Call for help

Strategies After the Fact

Privately support an upset person

Talk privately with the inappropriate actor

Report the incident, with or without names


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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