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The presence of individual leadership and shared responsibility is the key to a thriving community. Our positive actions, big and small, can create a community where all individuals feel safe and supported. You might not change the outcome of every situation every time, but believe in your ability to positively impact the lives of your peers and your community at large. You can do something.
Just because you can do something, doesn’t mean it’s simple to step-in. In fact, part of our role as active bystanders is supporting our fellow community members who do step-in. This can include acknowledging how difficult it can be and working together to come up with a plan for how to offer support to a student in need. Together, we can do something.
Arizona State University is committed to creating environments in which all Sun Devils can thrive. Due to an ever-expanding engagement in virtual platforms, this commitment must include our online and virtual communities. Creating a space in which all Sun Devils can thrive means working together as empowered community members within our in-person and online communities to prevent sexual and relationship violence.
What actions are you taking to contribute to ASU’s thriving community? Maybe you have done something recently, big or small, to help out a fellow Sun Devil in need. If so, tell us about it through the following You Can Do Something contribution form.
Visit the education page to browse additional educational topics.
If you notice a situation where someone needs help, but you are unsure if you should intervene or not, acknowledge any bias you may have about the situation. Identity often plays a role in whether or not someone will receive help, or whether or not someone will step in. Intervene to help a member of our community regardless of their race, ethnicity, ability status, gender-identity, or sexual orientation.
Safety should always be of the greatest importance, in both in-person and virtual environments, when deciding whether you are going to intervene in a situation. If you feel unsafe, or are concerned about the safety of someone else, seek help from others and contact emergency services when appropriate.
Sometimes, people do not intervene because they do not know how to or do not feel confident enough to do so. The different strategies below can be used to intervene in situations where someone may need help. Before intervening, always consider your personal safety. If you do not feel safe or fear for the safety of others, contact emergency services immediately.
Initially, it may seem tricky to act as an empowered bystander within online environments, but the same principles of intervention apply to our virtual world. It is often the format of communication that needs to change. This may mean communicating via direct message, text message, email, video chat, phone call, commenting on social media content and more.
Speak out! When safe, be direct to intervene in a situation where someone may be causing harm. This might look like saying, “I am not okay with what you just said.” or “Hey, please leave them alone.”
Step in! Interrupt a potentially unsafe or harmful situation by distracting either party. This might look like saying, “Hey, aren’t you in my class?” or “Who wants to go get tacos?”
Know your power! Delegate to others to prevent a potentially dangerous or harmful situation. This might look like asking someone to check in on another person, saying “Go call a Lyft!” or asking someone to contact emergency services while you stay on the phone.
Check in! A delayed response is better than no response. If you didn’t intervene in the moment for safety or other reasons, connect with the person who may need support. You could say something like, “I noticed what happened, are you okay?”
Here are some tips for intervening based on our “You can do something” poster series.
Diffusion of responsibility is a social psychological phenomenon in which people are less likely to take action in the presence of others. When you notice a situation where someone may need help and others are around, push back on the diffusion of responsibility by demonstrating your leadership.
Sometimes it can be hard to express empathy because we don’t know what to do or say. If you see someone who is in distress, checking in with them can make a big difference.
When we see situations occur while we are minding our business, although we care, it can be easy to look the other way and hope someone else might help. Sun Devils Assume Fundamental Responsibility for our community. Contribute to the culture you want to live in by helping to solve the problem.
Our community members may reach out and ask for help in a number of ways, both directly and indirectly. If you notice something online that causes you to feel concern, don’t ignore that feeling. Instead, reach out to the person to check-in and offer support.
Learn more about the resources available to you and your peers. If the online content involves someone experiencing harm or you are concerned for someone’s safety, reach out to emergency services or if appropriate, ASU’s Mental Health Line offered through EMPACT at 480-921-1006.
Sometimes we don’t speak up in situations where someone has said something hurtful because we can misinterpret silence by others as acceptance of what was said. Silence doesn’t always mean passivity. When people are uncomfortable by words, sometimes we are silent because we don’t know what to do or say.
Observing a situation that might escalate can be a scary situation to be in. Situation assessment is important to a successful intervention. If you are unsure of how to help and others are around, talk to them!
We don’t always think of bystander intervention as something that takes place in our virtual environments, but we have a role to play as empowered bystanders in all our environments. Our online content can either contribute to, or work to dismantle, the culture of violence. You may be scrolling by and notice something problematic on your feed. Don’t associate a lack of responses from your peers as condoning what has been said or shared. Instead, you can be the first to intervene.