Bystander Intervention

Everyone has a duty and a responsibility to intervene if they see harm occurring or about to occur. Bystanders are anyone in the community that sees or hears about a behavior that could lead to something harmful. Through their action, bystanders have the ability to prevent harm from occurring. All bystanders have a choice to make, to intervene or to move forward without trying to stop the situation. There are 5 steps to bystander intervention. First, a person must notice the event. Second, they must interpret it as a situation that needs intervention. Third, they must assume responsibility to intervene. Fourth, they must decide how to intervene. And last, they must act. A person may experience barriers at any of these steps that make it so that a person does not intervene should they witness an instance of harm.

Bystanders can act to prevent harm in a number of ways. Rhodes College has adopted the Green Dot program as a way to teach about violence prevention. Green Dot empowers every community member to take small actions in order to foster a culture where violence and harm towards members of our community are not tolerated. Red dots are actions that people choose to do that can result in harm to other individuals. While, green dots are actions that people take to prevent harm from occurring.

Three Ways to Intervene:


Check in yourself with the person being harmed or person doing the harm.


  • Check in with someone who looks uncomfortable and ask them if they are OK.
  • Tell someone who is about to do something that may harm another person that their behavior isn’t acceptable.


Get someone else to intervene. This type of intervention recognizes that sometimes other people may be better suited to intervene.


  • Tell someone that they may want to go check on their friend.
  • Let a party host know that there is something going on that they should look into.


Create a diversion to defuse the situation; i.e, an action that stops a situation for a few seconds to give everyone a chance to recollect.


  • Set off your car alarm
  • Ask for directions

To schedule a Green Dot Session, please contact Jennifer Leili.