Hi Y’all! I’m Jordon Tate, the prevention coordinator at Ampersand and with my role I work with middle school and high school students teaching them about how to become an active bystander through a program called Green Dot!
Throughout the program, students are encouraged to identify their role as a bystander in ending power-based personal violence (dating violence, sexual assault, bullying) among their peers. The students define what an active bystander is to them. My description of an active bystander is someone who, when they see a high risk situation for violence or they believe that violence is about to occur that they do something to interrupt or prevent the situation. These high risk situations are called, “red dots.”
There’s a belief that when it comes to being an active bystander that you have to intervene in a specific way. But we know that there isn’t just one fantastic amazing way for you to intervene when you see violence occurring or about to occur. What’s important is that when deciding on your role as a bystander, that you intervene in a way that feels safe and comfortable to you. A moment of intervention is a “green dot.”
One of the ways, you can intervene when you see something concerning is directly confronting the behavior the person is exhibiting. This could be you calling them out and telling them to stop the concerning behavior.
But maybe you don’t feel comfortable directly confronting someone who is hurting another individual, so instead you delegate and get someone else to help you. This could include letting someone else know about the situation and that you expect them to help or calling 911.
Another example of how to be an active bystander would be directly interacting with the person being hurt. This can be as easy as just checking in with them to make sure that they are ok and comfortable with what’s happening.
If you still don’t believe or feel that any of the other options is a good fit for you due to your barriers or personality traits you can always try to distract the attention away from the situation! If you see a situation and can think of a way to divert the attention of the people in the situation, distracting is the perfect option. A distraction might include accidently spilling a drink on someone, asking for a ride, or starting an unrelated conversation.
With becoming an active bystander, it doesn’t matter how you get involved what’s important is that you do something that feels realistic to you!
The only way that we’re going to change the culture, from one that allows unacceptable rates of power-based personal violence to occur to one that doesn’t accept these acts of violence, is when everyone steps in and does their part!
No one has to do everything, but everyone has to do something. What’s your Green Dot?