Effective Bystander Intervention Programs

What makes an effective bystander? (And  AE’s definition of an effective bystander  is someone who is willing to put themselves on the line in an attempt to prevent sexual assault; and actually accomplishes this task, without harm to themselves or others.) It can be a seriously dangerous proposition; and people who are trained to intervene will have better chances of success. Below are the components of effective bystanding, taken from the article Bystander-Focused Prevention of Sexual Violence, a resource from  the Not Alone toolkit.

Common Components of Bystander Intervention

  • Awareness.

A key first step is to heighten awareness so individuals and groups are better able to identify instances of sexual violence.

  • Sense of Responsibility.

A sense of responsibility gives the bystander motivation to step in and take action. Bystanders are much more likely to help friends than strangers, and are more likely to help strangers if they see them as part of a group they identify with (like supporting the same sports team).

  • Perceptions of norms.

Perceptions of peer norms about helping (whether you think your friends are likely to help), and perceptions of authorities’ (like teachers’) attitudes are related to bystander attitudes. People often mistakenly think others are less supportive of doing something to address sexual violence than they actually are. Studies show links between perceptions of helping, trust, and commitment among community members; trust in campus authorities; and their willingness to take action as a bystander.

  • Weighing pros and cons.

People weigh the costs and benefits of getting involved in a risky situation. These include threats to their own safety, negative consequences for their relationships with others, and the potential to change the outcome of a risky situation or to help a victim.

  • Confidence.

People who feel more confident in their ability to help are more likely to take action.3 A consistent research finding is that prevention programs, particularly in-person educational and skill workshops, increase individuals’ sense that they can take effective action.

  • Building Skills.

People need to know what to do and how to do it. Population survey data shows that many people are at a loss for specific ways to help. Survivors tell us that friends and family do not always do things that are useful or supportive, and these negative or unhelpful responses make coping with and recovering from abuse much harder. Some of the promise of bystander intervention training is that it can give motivated community members skills to intervene in ways that protect their own safety and are truly supportive to victims.

  • Context.

Bystanders also need safety nets for themselves – resources they can call upon and community policies that support intervention.

Delivery Methods

In person, skill-building curricula. Workshops of varying lengths are the most researched prevention training for potential bystanders.

Need an App for That?

These days,  young people, (and even a few of use older ones) use Apps for everything! And why is that? Apps can be kwirky, cool,  or crazy! But the reason I use them is that they are incredibly convenient. The Association of Title IX administrators (ATIXA) have developed an app that can be used as a Title IX compliance tool. I can’t say that I have personal experience with this app, (how well it works, or engages students) but given all of the extensive training requirements of Title IX compliance, I’d say, it seems this might be a great solution to a problem that is always going to a moving target. Click on the links below to get more information.


U of Nine is an app-based solution to help colleges and universities educate students and employees about sexual violence, sexual harassment, intimate partner violence and stalking. A cost-effective way to offer awareness and education content for audiences that can be hard-to-reach.

U of Nine modules are quiz-based, and have been created by ATIXA, the Association of Title IX Administrators, in collaboration with leading education quiz-based training app company, Trivie.

Experience U of Nine for yourself! Free 14-day trials available online atwww.uofnine.com

To learn more, click here.
To read the official press release, click here.