So many times when we speak about Bystander Intervention we talk about how to stop something from happening at a bar or party, but Bystander Intervention is more dynamic and diverse than that.
Bystanders are the individuals who witness emergencies, criminal events, or situations that could lead to criminal activity or harm to another. They may have the opportunity to provide assistance, do nothing, or contribute to negative behavior. Bystander Intervention is the act of providing assistance, with tools and knowledge, to help in a stop a negative or criminal activity. Of course individuals should never put themselves in harm’s way, but there are skills that can make bystander intervention less scary and less harmful of a task.
First, one must notice that something is happening and recognize that something is wrong. Second, they must take personal responsibility and know how they can help.
Know the 4D’s:
Distract– do something that will distract the perpetrator enough so the victim of the behavior can get away safely.
Delegate: If you don’t feel comfortable causing a distraction or confronting the person, find someone who can.
Direct: If it is safe, be direct with the perpetrator. Let them know what they are doing is not ok.
Delay: This tactic is often not talked about, but it’s still a really important strategy. You check in with the victim of the incident after it has occurred to see if you can do anything to help them.
We may know how to take these tools and use them during in-person situations, but what about Social Media? Social media is becoming such a large part of our everyday lives. Social media can be a platform for connecting and providing positive communication, but just as everything, it can also be used in a negative way.
Recently, Chicago Police announced they had arrested a 14-year old boy in connection with a sexual assault of a 15-year old girl that had been live streamed on social media in March. Not only was this a horrendous crime, but it was said 40 people watched this assault live and never contacted the authorities. 40 people had an opportunity to be active bystanders, but chose not to be.
Although you may not be able to be direct or distract if you see a crime being live streamed on a social platform, you can delegate by stepping up and notify the authorities, including the management of the platform it is being streamed on. Bystander intervention is about taking personal responsibility in creating a community where everyone is supported and safe. It is about creating a culture of empathy and strength. As our communities change with the growth of social media, these platforms deserve our focus in creating safe and empowering places to connect.
Bystander intervention comes in many forms. If you see something you suspect to be a crime on live streams contact the appropriate authorities. If not you, then who?
Call the Sexual Assault Center for more information about how you can be an Active Bystander. We can be reached at http://www.sacenter.org or by calling 615.259.9055. Let’s work together to end sexual violence in our community!