Increasingly, teaching bystander skills is a key component of efforts to prevent sexual assault and coercion on campuses. Our interactive infographic (January 2016) outlined simple, seemingly casual actions that can help prevent tense social situations from escalating into coercion or assault.

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How to rock your bystander interventions: be subtle, be safe, be the difference (click to read) was written by Hana Awwad and Evan Walker-Wells. Our quiz personalized the bystander concept (“What kind of helper are you?”); it was originally developed with Lee Scriggins and Teresa Wroe of the University of Colorado Boulder.

Who read How to rock your bystander interventions and learned from it?

  • In January 2016, more than 40,000 student readers provided feedback.
  • Two out of three respondents said they had read the bystander feature.
  • Of those, 82 percent said they had learned from it.

To many students, the bystander interventionist concept was new or unfamiliar:

“I didn’t know it was a thing.” (Canadian student)

“I didn’t really know that a specific term existed for it, and that there were ways to improve and help.” (US undergraduate)

“I never see these tips in any publications. It’s incredibly important.” (US nontraditional student)

“I never knew what [bystander intervention] meant until I read this article!” (US nontraditional student)

Readers were struck by how much of a difference they could make in building a safer community:

“[The most interesting thing I learned] was how we really are actually useful in society.” (US undergraduate)

“[I learned] that using bystander interventions can have a huge impact on others lives; very cool. Treat others the way you want to be treated.” (US nontraditional student)

“You could honestly save someone’s life if you approach a situation with the right mindset.” (US undergraduate)

“Being an active bystander is crucial and more important than anyone realizes. :)” (US nontraditional student)

“I am really happy that students are learning more about bystander interventions! It’s a great way to keep our campus safer!” (Canadian student)

“As a victim myself, I would give anything to have had anyone step in and say something.” (Canadian student)

“Looooved loved loved the bystander intervention article. I think that is super-important to know.” (US undergraduate)

“I love how [this article] talks about building a community that doesn’t tolerate casual disrespect and disregard.” (US undergraduate)

Our quiz helped students identify specific strategies that could work for them:

How to rock your bystander interventions was really nicely done. Good interventions, interesting interactive format, great ideas.” (US undergraduate)

“[This feature] was a great way to get the audience thinking about techniques that one can employ to help others who may need it.” (US undergraduate)

“I [had] never truly thought about the different kinds of bystanders, and the interactive quiz was both engaging and informative.” (US undergraduate)

“An interesting read, particularly the various ways a person can intervene depending on what type of intervention style they are most comfortable with.” (Canadian student)

“It helped me understand how I would react in an uncomfortable situation, and new ways to distract and intervene.” (US undergraduate)

“I found out that in the bystander interventions quiz, my bystander style is that of a Stealth Operator.” (US nontraditional student)

“I had fun taking the bystander quiz, and I found out that I am a distraction artist!” (US nontraditional student)

“I found out I’m an extroverted/people-relations person who likes to work with others for bystander interventions.” (Canadian student)

“The Bystander quiz helped me understand my approach, but also gave me ideas on other interventions I could try that may be more impactful.” (US undergraduate)

Readers were surprised and reassured by the ease, effectiveness, and relevance of nonconfrontational strategies:

“I [had] always thought [intervening] was complicated and difficult.” (Canadian student)

“Bystanders can prevent pressure and disrespect from escalating to coercion and violence… without using violence itself.” (US undergraduate)

“I did not realize such small actions could help someone in an uncomfortable situation.” (US nontraditional student)

“It was so accessible and I felt it was applicable to my life.” (US undergraduate)

“They make intervening so easy that everyone should be able to take a couple of the tips to prevent a bad situation from happening to someone else.” (US nontraditional student)

“I like how it taught the readers how to be an active bystander but also stay safe at the same time.” (US nontraditional student)

“Great suggestions on how to move yourself from being a passive to an active bystander. It is often very difficult to see and act on a situation without being imposing or rude. There should be more awareness about this.” (Canadian student)

“I found the thoughts about bystanders very interesting and applicable as a teacher and student.” (Canadian student)

Readers also appreciated the range and variety of ways that we can look out for others:

“The bystander interventions were creative and unexpected.” (US undergraduate)

“I learned some new lines to use to help a friend either get out of situation as a victim, or to [intervene with] a friend who makes others victims.” (US nontraditional student)

“I thought that the section that dealt with looking for allies was interesting. I had not read any materials that took that approach to bystander situations.” (US undergraduate)

“I liked the ways to change the dynamics in the room and the ways to give someone a way to escape.” (US undergraduate)

“Good lines for bystander intervention. I’m shameless, but those are skills more people need to develop if we want the world to be kinder and more accountable.” (Canadian student)

“I liked learning how to follow up with those that may seem they are having trouble.” (US undergraduate)

“Lots of creative ideas for breaking up awkward social dynamics.” (Canadian student)

Many readers spoke to a new awareness of how they could help in future:

“The bystander interventions really opened my eyes!” (US undergraduate)

“It really made me think about what I would do.” (US nontraditional student)

“I love doing those kinds of things and I learned how to improve.” (Canadian student)

“It was interesting to be reminded of how important it is to help the people around us. Something I will keep in mind throughout campus and on.” (US nontraditional student)

“We all have the power to actually take action. We can be so influential; we just have to know how to take the initiative and understand its importance.” (US undergraduate)

“I’ll definitely be keeping an eye out for bystander cases.” (Canadian student)