Drastic Measures: Bystander Intervention Programs Are Being Adopted In Schools Across The Nation

Posted by Joseph D. Lento | Oct 24, 2018 | 0 Comments

From the adoption of the single-investigator model to mediation tactics, schools are becoming more open to embracing unconventional methods of combating sexual assault and harassment in higher education. A campaign with a unique approach to prevention is gaining popularity and has been regarded as effective during its run in schools like Stanford and Harvard.

The program goes by the name of “bystander intervention.” It gives students a chance to be the change they want to see in the fight against sexual misconduct while instilling a much needed heightened sense of awareness. In this program, a bystander is defined as someone who witnesses behavior that likely leads to consequences that could be high risk or harmful. In these circumstances, bystanders are presented the opportunity to either deter this bad behavior or ignore the situation altogether.

In the prevention of sexual violence, bystanders play a pivotal role. They are often the largest group of people involved in an incident, outnumbering both perpetrators and victims. Their close proximity to these incidents increases their range of involvement in assaults. A bystander may be aware that a specific assault will happen, has happened, or is happening. The program is a reminder that they have the opportunity to stop these incidents and get immediate help for victims.

The ultimate goal of this intervention is to offset the bystander effect - a phenomenon in which the increased presence of bystanders during a crisis actually decreases the likelihood that someone will intervene. This is ascribed to the assumption by most people that someone else will respond, hence justifying their reluctance or outright refusal to intercede.

What program coordinators want students to recognize is that because of the bystander effect, they may be the only ones who take action in a dire situation. The program also emphasizes the importance of bystanders taking precautions to protect their own well-being in their endeavors to help someone else. After assessing safety concerns, the program coordinators offer several ways to intervene. Creating a distraction, talking directly to a person that might be in trouble, referring to an authority, or enlisting others to help are a few suggestions.

If the bystander intervention proves to be effective in these schools, you may be able to count on it becoming available at your school.

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Joseph D. Lento

"I pride myself on having heart and driving hard to get results!" Attorney Joseph D. Lento passionately fights for the futures of his clients nationwide. Attorney Lento and his team represent students and others in disciplinary cases and various other proceedings at colleges and universities across the United States. Attorney Lento has helped countless students, professors, and others in academia at more than a thousand colleges and universities across the United States, and when necessary, he and his team have sought justice on behalf of clients in courts across the nation. He does not settle for the easiest outcome, and instead prioritizes his clients' needs and well-being. Joseph D. Lento is licensed in Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and New York, is admitted pro hac vice as needed nationwide, and he can help you or your student address any school-related issue or concern anywhere in the United States.


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