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Living the Value of being Principled by being an Active Bystander
Mary Mitchell

Living the Value of being Principled by being an Active Bystander

In the end we will remember not the words of our enemies but the silence of our friends
Martin Luther King Jr.

Our third blog looks at how we can live the value of being principled through understanding the benefits and process of being an active bystander. Active bystander interventions have been found to reduce incidents of harassment, discrimination, and bullying in schools and colleges. This approach has the potential to empower our community to address issues of relationship harm in real time and significantly contribute to lowering such incidents within communities.

This process is especially relevant and supportive to young people and children who witness issues of relationship harm and want to act but are unsure how they can safely support the person who is the target of the harm taking place

At TASIS, we are currently developing active bystander courses for our school community and intend to start teaching these courses to students, faculty, and staff. We will also provide learning opportunities for parents during the 2023-24 school year.

The basic principles and approach to being an active bystander are outlined here:

Before stepping in, try the ABC approach.

  • Assess for safety: If you see someone in trouble, ask yourself if you can help safely in any way. Remember, your personal safety is a priority – never put yourself at risk.
  • Be in a group: It’s safer to call out behavior or intervene in a group. If this is not an option, report it to others who can act.
  • Care for the person being harmed. Talk to the person who you think may need help. Ask them if they are OK

How You Can Intervene Safely:
When it comes to intervening safely, remember the four Ds – direct, distract, delegate, and delay.

  • Direct action
    Call out negative behavior; tell the person to stop or ask the victim if they are OK. Do this as a group if you can. Be polite. Don’t aggravate the situation – remain calm and state why something has offended you. Stick to exactly what has happened, don’t exaggerate.
  • Distract
    Interrupt; start a conversation with the perpetrator to allow their potential target to move away or have friends intervene. Or come up with an idea to get the victim out of the situation – tell them they need to take a call, or you need to speak to them – any excuse to get them away to safety. Alternatively, try distracting or redirecting the situation.
  • Delegate
    If you are too embarrassed or shy to speak out, or you don’t feel safe to do so, get someone else to step in.
  • Delay
    f the situation is too dangerous to challenge then and there, just walk away. Wait for the situation to pass, then ask the target later if they are OK. Or report it when it’s safe to do so – it’s never too late to act.

An active bystander is a principled person who not only witnesses unacceptable behavior, but who also chooses to act and challenge that behavior to prevent harm. This process will be a key element of our Values in Action program. Our hope is that through training our community to be active bystanders, we will not only be living our values and mission but also creating principled children and young people who will be known for their words and actions.