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Bystanders Step Up!

If you or someone you know experiences violence, you're not alone. Help is available.

Have you ever witnessed something that made you feel uncomfortable? Did you want to say something or step up and offer help, but did not?

You’re not alone! 

“A survey at three universities (University of Arizona, University of California–Riverside, and University of Virginia) revealed that students are encountering multiple situations where bystander intervention would be appropriate including, among other things, alcohol abuse, hazing, eating disorders, sexual assault and discrimination. Almost 90% stated a problem could have been avoided with intervention and up to 85% of the student-athletes indicated they would like to learn skills to intervene. The bottom line is that many, if not most, unfortunate results are PREVENTABLE.” (Step UP)

IUP’s Step Up AWAREness Campaign was designed to help students learn how to safely step in and offer help or step out and get help for an individual in need. Together we can maintain a safer campus community!

It only takes five steps to be an active bystander!

1. Notice the event.

It is extremely easy to miss something that you’re not looking for. Students are busy people! You can be distracted by social media, friends, homework, etc. Sometimes we aren’t aware of our surroundings or just don’t want to notice something that is wrong. In order to create a safer campus community, we must be aware of what is going on around us. 

2. Interpret the event as a problem.

We also have the fight the temptation to conform. We all are exposed to peer pressure. Sometimes we look to see what an authority is doing, like the president of your student organization. Other times we see what the people around us are doing. If no one else steps in to offer help, we assume that we shouldn’t either. This can be hard to fight, but we can create a safer campus community if we take responsibility for our IUP family. 

3. Assume personal responsibility.

Research shows that if you are alone you will help 80 percent of the time, but if you are in a group you will help only 20 percent of the time because of diffusion or responsibility (you think someone else will do something). You can take personal responsibility and be the first person to step up. 

4. Know how to help.

Anyone can be an active bystander. You should never put yourself in danger, but in most situations, there is something that you can do to help. Below are ways in which you can help.

  • Look for exit strategies to get you and others out of the situation.
  • Be clear and direct with your requests.
  • Make safe choices.
  • Understand your boundaries and limits as a helper.
  • Engage other bystanders to help.
  • Know campus and community resources

5. Step Up! and offer help.

For many people, step five can be the hardest part of being an active bystander. Often times we know something is wrong, may now how to help, may want to help, but we just decide not to. In such situations, you must consider the cost of not stepping up.

When it’s time for you to step in and offer help or step out and get help, you should:

  • Carefully consider the situation before taking any action.
  • Step up early before the problem becomes a crisis or disaster.
  • Know your limits! This means walking away when it is unsafe and calling someone else to help, such as the police. 

For more information on being an active bystander, you can schedule a Step Up! Active Bystander training. This service is free to IUP students, faculty, and staff.

Jessica Black, Stephenson Hall Community Assistant, created a Step Up themed bulletin board for her residents

IUP’s Step UP! is adapted from the University of Arizona C.A.T.S. Life Skills Program.