Bystander intervention initiatives are gaining recognition in college health as an important prevention strategy. The University offers multiple bystander intervention programs and policies designed to encourage intervention.
The pro-social bystander approach
Bystanders are individuals who witness events or situations that could lead to dangerous or criminal events and, by their presence, may have the opportunity to change the outcome. They may elect to do nothing, to contribute to the negative event, or—more importantly—to provide assistance and intervention.
The pro-social bystander model calls for prevention efforts that take a wider community approach in which an individual’s behaviors as a bystander intervene in ways that impact the outcome positively.
Research suggests that a community-focused solution may do more to prevent harm or lower risks in campus health than an individual-based approach. There may be an opportunity to change broader community norms around health and well-being by:
- increasing students’ awareness of risky behaviors
- helping students to identify those behaviors and interpret them as a problem
- encouraging students to intervene during high-risk situations
By increasing students’ awareness of risky-behaviors and helping them to take responsibility to intervene during high-risk situations, there may be the opportunity to change broader community norms around college health and well-being.
Current bystander initiatives
The following programs are offered by Skorton Center staff members:
- Intervene (addresses multiple topics: hazing, bias, mental health, sexual assault, intimate partner violence, sexual harassment, alcohol emergency)
- Notice & Respond: Friend 2 Friend (a program for students, addressing mental health and suicide)
- Notice & Respond: Assisting Student In Distress (a program for staff and faculty, addressing mental health and suicide)