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Bystander Intervention

A bystander is anyone who observes an emergency or a situation that looks like someone could use some help.

What is Bystander Intervention?

Research has found that people tend to struggle with whether helping out is their responsibility and one of the major obstacles to intervention is something called diffusion of responsibility--which means that if several people are present, an individual is much less likely to step up and help out because he/she believes someone else will. Other major reasons that bystanders fail to intervene are that the situation is too ambiguous, that the bystander is worried about misjudging the situation and thus will be embarrassed by intervening, or that the bystander believes the victim is in some way responsible for the the situation and is thus getting what they deserve.

Bystander Intervention programs offered at Carroll College teach people to overcome their resistance to checking in and helping out. These programs have been found to be very helpful on college campuses to thwart sexual assault, abusive alcohol consumption, vandalism, and concerns about issues such as suicide, depression and eating disorders.

Have you ever stopped a friend from going home with someone when your friend was too inebriated? Have you ever called 911 for an ambulance for a friend who was very drunk and should not be left alone? These are examples of being a bystander who makes the important decision to stop violence and/or potential injury or death when they see something, hear something or know something. Be the person who makes the call to help someone or to find help for someone in need or at risk.

Be an Active Bystander at Carroll College!

How can you make a difference at Carroll College?

  • Believe someone who tells you they have been sexually assaulted, are in an abusive relationship, or are experiencing stalking.
  • Be respectful of yourself and others. Be sure that any act of intimacy is okay with your partner and check in every time you initiate greater intimacy.
  • Watch out for your friends and classmates. If you come across someone who looks like they are in trouble, check in with them and make sure they are okay. If you see a friend so something sketchy, inappropriate, or unhelpful, say something.
  • Speak up. If someone says something offensive, derogatory, racist or abusive, let them know that this behavior is wrong and not acceptable. Do not laugh at racist, sexist or homophobic jokes.
  • Get involved. Attend bystander intervention training programs. Learn how you can help prevent sexual violence at Carroll College.

Bystander Intervention Training

Carroll College will offer annual Bystander Intervention Training to employees, students, leadership groups, student-athletes, and our ROTC cadets. If you are interested in Bystander Intervention Training for a class, residence hall floor, employee group or student group, please contact Emily Busby, Assistant Dean of Students and Director of Residential Life & Housing, Borromeo Hall, ebusby@carroll.edu, (406) 447-5509,

Adapted from the website of the Office of Sexual Assault Prevention and Response, Harvard University, 2015.