Pause Off! Peer Education Theatre Troupe

Bystander Basics

A bystander is anyone who is not directly involved in a situation but is an onlooker by chance.

The bystander effect is where persons are less likely to intervene in an emergency situation when others are present than when they are alone.

People do this for fear of "losing face" in front of others or offering unwanted assistance.

One goal of PAUSE OFF is to educate students about how to be an effective bystander and what to pay attention to.   How many times have you been at a party or with a small group of friends and witnessed something that made you feel uneasy? Maybe it was someone pushing another person to leave with them, or someone encouraging alcohol use to an extreme. Or, maybe you saw a friend slap his or her date. What would you do?

Be careful not to upset the perpetrator or start a fight.  It could be as simple as interrupting the situation. Asking "Where's the bathroom?" could provide an opportunity for someone who is feeling cornered to slip away, or just checking in with the person you're concerned about. It could mean telling a friend that you don't like the way he or she is acting, or it could mean calling the police.

Remember, it’s always to be safe than sorry.  You could change someone’s life.


What strategies are effective for bystanders?
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