Bystander Intervention Theory
Making the first move falls under a psychological theory called Bystander
Intervention. Many situations have been studied, and there are certain steps
that are the same in every situation.
The 5 steps that we all go through when we decide whether to make a move are:
- Notice the event
You need to notice that something is wrong. You have to be aware of what’s going on around you, which is harder than it looks. You might notice that one of your friends has had too much to drink, is wandering off with a guy you don’t know, or that one of your friends is posting some statuses on Facebook that would indicate he is depressed.
- Interpret the event as a problem
If you've ever been to a party and heard a girl scream, what just happened? Is she being threatened, or has she just seen a spider, run into a good friend, or loves the song being played? You don’t know if there is a problem unless you take a moment to glance over and determine why she was screaming. Is it a problem if two of your friends are drunk and leaving a party together, alone?
- Assume personal responsibility
Once you notice an event and interpret it as a problem, you need to make it your problem. This
can be very hard. People are much more likely to help when they are alone than when others are present. Each one of us has the responsibility to make the first move.
- Know how to help
You can’t help if you don’t know what to do. Check out the topic pages for ways you can help in various situations.
- Implement the help
OK, you made it this far – now make your move! Remember to make moves that are safe for you (calling
Public Safety or 911 might be the only safe thing you can do) and will help you accomplish your goal.
Remember, you do have a responsibility to intervene. However, you are
not responsible for the outcome of the intervention.
We express our appreciation to the University of Arizona C.A.T.S. Life Skills Program for allowing us to use modified versions of their STEP UP! Program content in this USI campus initiative.