George Mason University

Step In and Step Up

It's Up to Us

Research shows that we are far less likely to help in an emergency situation when there are other people around. This is called “the bystander effect.” It’s up to you to be an active bystander. Own your culture, take care of your friends.

Bystander Intervention: Helping Friends Stay Safe

Steps to being a good bystander

  • Notice an out-of-the-ordinary​ occurrence.
  • Evaluate with your head and your gut — is something wrong?
  • Ask yourself, "Could I play a role here?" If no one intervenes, what will likely happen?
  • Assess your options for offering help. What are the risks?
  • Intervene, or call someone else who can do so more effectively or safely.

Ways to intervene when something isn’t right

  • Create a distraction. Spill something, bring out fresh food, start a conversation with the people about whom you are concerned.
  • Talk to the people directly. Ask the person to go with you to the bathroom, ask them directly what’s going on, ask them if they are okay, ask who they came with and how they’re getting home.
  • Enlist help from someone with authority (bartender, an RA, security). Enlist help from the person’s friends
  • Don’t leave. Be a witness.