Safety and Support

Why is the Active Bystander campaign so important?

Being an Active Bystander means that we don’t stand by when we witness troubling behaviour; instead we strive to take action and ensure that our University communities continue to feel safe, fun and accepting places to be.

What we are talking about here?
This is all about Stepping Up, if it feels safe, when we see or hear things that are wrong, for instance:

  • Disrespectful or unacceptable behaviour
  • Homophobic, racist or sexist jokes
  • Discrimination
  • Risky Behaviour resulting from substance use (alcohol and drugs)
  • Taking advantage of power imbalances (like status, size or level of inebriation)

This is not about responding in a dramatic way - it’s about doing the right thing and saying what needs to be said - in many ways it's about using our common sense and being a good member of our important and caring community.

Some simple steps to becoming an Active Bystander:

  • Safety in numbers: Identify others who could help you (i.e., friends, Residence Support Assistants, Street Team, Security, Police)
  • Notice the situation: Be aware of your surroundings.
  • Feel responsible to act: See yourself as being part of the solution to help.
  • Tell it like it is: Showing someone how the impact of their behaviour would feel if directed at them or someone they care about prevents them from dehumanising the target of their behaviour. (i.e., “I hope no one ever talks about you like that.”)
  • Be a mate: Reframing the intervention as your attempt to help someone be successful/stay out of trouble. (i.e., “As your mate, I gotta tell you that the way you treat women at parties is not helping your reputation.”)
  • Distract: Distraction can keep things from happening, and snap people out of “comfort zone” behaviour that come from sexism, homophobia or racism.
  • Intervene safely: Take action but be sure to keep yourself safe.

How to intervene safely

  • Tell another person. Being with others is a good idea when a situation looks dangerous.
  • Ask a victim if he/she is okay. Provide options and a listening ear.
  • Ask the person if he/she wants to leave. Make sure that he/she gets home safely.
  • Call Security if on Campus, (Keele University 01782 733004, Staffordshire University 01782 294444) or the police (999) or someone else in authority or shout for help.

How can my friends and I stay safe?

Acting as a community helps University to be a safe place. Remember these tips when you are out...

Have a plan.
Talk with your friends about your plans for the night BEFORE you go out. Do you feel like drinking? Are you interested in hooking up? Where do you want to go? Having a clear plan ahead of time helps friends look after one another.

Go out together.
Go out as a group and come home as a group; don’t separate and leave your friend(s) behind. If you do decide to leave with someone else, check your friends know where you're going and that they have a way of getting home safely before you leave.

Diffuse situations.
If you see a friend coming on too strong to someone who may be too drunk to make a consensual decision, interrupt, distract, or redirect the situation. If you are too embarrassed or shy to speak out, get someone else to step in.

Trust your instincts.
If a situation or person doesn’t seem “right” to you, trust your gut and remove yourself, if possible, from the situation.

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