COMMON COMPONENTS OF BYSTANDER INTERVENTION
BYSTANDER INTERVENTION LINKS
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An intervention is an orchestrated attempt by one or many people
usually family and friends – to get someone to seek professional
help with an addiction or some kind of traumatic event or crisis,
or other serious problem. The term intervention is most often used
when the traumatic event involves addiction to drugs or other items.
Intervention can also refer to the act of using a similar technique
within a therapy session.
Interventions have been used to address serious personal problems,
including, but not limited to, alcoholism, compulsive gambling,
drug abuse, compulsive eating and other eating disorders, self harm
and being the victim of abuse.
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The bystander effect or bystander intervention (also known as
bystander apathy) is a psychological phenomenon in which someone
is less likely to intervene in an emergency situation when others
are present than when they are alone.
Solitary individuals will typically intervene if another person is
in need of help: this is known as bystander intervention. However,
researchers were surprised to find that help is less likely to be
given if more people are present. In some situations, a large group
of bystanders may fail to help a person who obviously needs help.
The most common explanation of this phenomenon is that, with others
present, observers all assume that someone else is going to intervene
and so they each individually refrain from doing so. This is an example
of how diffusion of responsibility leads to social loafing. People may
also assume that other bystanders may be more qualified to help, such
as being a doctor or police officer, and their intervention would thus
People may also fear "losing face" in front of the other bystanders,
being superseded by a "superior" helper, or offering unwanted assistance.
Another explanation is that bystanders monitor the reactions of other
people in an emergency situation to see if others think that it is
necessary to intervene. Since others are doing exactly the same, everyone
concludes from the inaction of others that other people do not think that
help is needed. This is an example of pluralistic ignorance and social
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The bystander effect, or bystander apathy, is a social psychological
phenomenon that refers to cases in which individuals do not offer any
means of help to a victim when other people are present.
The probability of help is inversely related to the number of bystanders.
In other words, the greater the number of bystanders, the less likely it
is that any one of them will help. Several variables help to explain why
the bystander effect occurs. These variables include: ambiguity,
cohesiveness and diffusion of responsibility.
There are five characteristics of emergencies that affect bystanders
1.Emergencies involve threat of harm or actual harm
2.Emergencies are unusual and rare
3.The type of action required in an emergency differs from situation
4.Emergencies cannot be predicted or expected
5.Emergencies require immediate action
Due to these five characteristics, bystanders go through cognitive
and behavioural processes:
1.Notice that something is going on
2.Interpret the situation as being an emergency
3.Degree of Responsibility felt
4.Form of Assistance
5.Implement the action choice
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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
• 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.
People who feel more confident in their ability to help are more likely to
take action. 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.5 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.
Bystanders also need safety nets for themselves – resources they can call upon
and community policies that support intervention.
Common Components of Bystander Intervention
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Addiction Intervention Guide
Addiction Intervention Guide for Families
Bystanders: Turning Onlookers into Bully-Prevention Agents
Don't Just Stand Thereâ€”Do Something
Early Intervention for Infants & Toddlers
Lesson Plans For Bystander
Response To Intervention
Stepping Up to Stop Sexual Assault
Step UP! Program
Structured Family Intervention
Tips to Help the Bullying Bystander
What Is Early Intervention?
What Would You Do in a Hit and Run?
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