Bystander Intervention

This is adapted from an article published on Lehigh University’s website.

Bystander Intervention is recognizing a potentially harmful situation or interaction and choosing to respond in a way that could positively influence the outcome.

Step UP! to Intervention

Everyone Can Help – Don’t Be a Bystander

There are five steps to helping when witness to a problematic or potentially problematic situation:

1. Notice the Event: People are busy, distracted, on their phones, talking, texting, not aware of their surroundings – some don’t want to notice. Pay attention to what is going on around you.

2. Interpret It as a Problem: Sometimes it is hard to tell if someone is in need of help. Error on the side of caution and investigate. Don’t be sidetracked by ambiguity, conformity or peer pressure. 

3. Assume Personal Responsibility: If not you, then who? Do not assume someone else will do something. Have the courage and confidence to BE THE FIRST!

4. Know How to Help: NEVER put yourself in harm’s way but DO SOMETHING! Help can be direct or indirect. 

5. Implement the Help – Act!

If not you, then who?

Research shows that if you are alone you will help 80% of the time but if you are in a  group you will help only 20% of the time because of the diffusion of responsibility-you think someone else will do something. Lehigh students have both personal and community responsibilities. This means not only taking care of yourself, but also taking care of others. You are part of a larger community. When you notice something going on, DO SOMETHING! 


Strategies for Doing Something 

Involve Myself

Directly address the situation. Step in and say or do something to stop the situation.

·         For example, if someone is trying to take an intoxicated student to a room, you can directly intervene by taking the person aside and saying, “Hey man, she looks drunk. I do not think that’s a good idea.”

Interrupt the Situation

Distract. Find a way to redirect the attention of those behaving inappropriately toward something else; making a simple (or elaborate) distraction to diffuse the situation.

·         For example, if a couple is arguing and things are getting heated, you can call one of the person’s cellphone or you can tell one of them that someone is outside urgently looking for him/her.

Initiate Help

Delegate.  Work with someone else to do a part and you do a part so you are not in it all by yourself or find someone else to address the concern.

·         This is a good option if you do not feel safe directly intervening, you are not sure what to do, or you simply do not want to get directly involved. Examples include, if you notice hazing activities, you can file an anonymous Hazing Report (link here). If you are concerned about a friend’s well-being, you can tell Gryphon or a professional in the Counseling Center. If you are at a party and someone is trying to get someone else intoxicated, you can alert the party host.


Safe Responding

Do not put yourself in a dangerous situation. For example, if you witness an altercation, it may be safer to call Campus Police (610-758-4200) rather than approaching the individuals involved.

Early Intervention

Intervening early can avoid a small problem from growing into an even bigger, more harmful problem. For example, it is easier (and safer) to convince your friend to stop drinking early in the evening than calling for an alcohol transport later.

Effective Helping

Effective helping is any helping. 

WatchDawg Program

What is a WatchDawg?

  • Looks out for fellow friends and dawgs
  • Recognizes and prevents potentially risky situations
  • Finds realistic ways to intervene

How can you become an active WatchDawg?

  • Attend the FREE WatchDawg Program
  • Learn the skills and receive a WatchDawgs t-shirt
  • Bring your friends

You never know when the next person who needs help will be you!

Tips to be a WatchDawg

  • Watch out for your friends and fellow Dawgs! If you see someone who looks like they need help, step up and do something!
  • Have a safety plan in place and use the buddy system with friends.
  • Confront friends who make excuses for inappropriate behavior. Even small things such as comments, jokes, media, or music lyrics promote a culture of violence and disrespect. Sometimes all it takes is a look!
  • Know the signs of alcohol poisoning.

S-A-F-E, Sexual Assault Fundemental Escapes Course

Below is a link for S-A-F-E (Sexual Assault Fundamental Escapes course), an Athens-based program that will give you the skills to Resist, Escape, & Defend by helping you to increase your awareness, avoid dangerous situations and empower you with simple and effective personal protective skills. This specialized women’s self defense course is designed and taught by retired Master Sergeant and Special Forces Combat Veteran, Randy McElwee. SAFE is designed for women of all ages and fitness levels, using techniques based on Gracie Jiu Jitsu, an internationally renowned martial arts form designed so that a smaller opponent can easily defeat a larger, stronger opponent using technique and leverage.


Posted on

October 23, 2019

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