Be an Active Bystander

Learning to recognize when someone is in danger and how you can safely intervene in potentially dangerous situations is an essential skill that will help you and your friends stay safe. Safely intervening sometimes means using distractions to stop someone from causing another person emotional or physical harm. Other times, it means reaching out to FIU staff, faculty, or the police for help.

How to be an Active Bystander:

  • Be aware: Wherever you are, be mindful of your surroundings. Learn your environment and think about what you would do if there were a threat to someone’s safety.
  • Identify problems: If you notice a potentially dangerous situation, ask yourself if you can help in any way. Be cognizant of the people around you and identify people who might have had a little too much to drink.
  • Be responsible & act: If there is a problem, know that you can be part of the solution. Don’t sit idly by and accept unacceptable behavior. If you see something that might directly or indirectly hurt another person, call it out or report it to someone who can help.
  • Know what to do: Everyone at FIU plays a role in keeping each other safe. As an FIU student, you should know the reporting structures available to you and who you can call in the event of an emergency. You also should be intentional about learning other ways to keep your fellow students safe.
  • Intervene safely: Take action when a potentially dangerous situation occurs, but remember to always keep yourself safe. If you don’t feel comfortable intervening, don’t risk your own safety; call FIUPD or your local police department (for off-campus situations).

How You Can Intervene Safely:

  • Tell someone else about the situation. Inform a friend or another trustworthy person about what is going on. Letting someone know about a situation, that you plan to intervene, or that you want help intervening is always a good idea.
  • Ask the victim(s) if they are okay. Talk to the person who you think may need help. Listen to them and provide them with options to get help.
  • Ask the person(s) if they want to leave. If they do, come up with an idea to get them out of the situation. After you help them leave, make sure that they get home safely. Do not send a drunk/blacked-out person home alone in an Uber, Lyft, or taxi service
  • Cause a distraction. Sometimes intervening means doing something to give a person the opportunity to leave a situation. Spilling your drink, asking the perceived victim to accompany you to the bathroom, or reminding them that they have to leave early to study for a test tomorrow are some examples. There are many different excuses that you can use to help someone out of a bad situation. Let us know what strategies have worked for you!
  • Call the police (911), FIUPD (305-348-2626), someone else in a place of authority, or yell for help.

How Can my Friends & I be Safe?

  • Have a plan.
    Talk with your friends about your plans for the night before you go out. Do you feel like drinking? Are you plan on hooking up tonight? Where all do you want to go? Who is going to be the designated driver? Are you Lyft/Uber-ing? Having a clear plan ahead of time helps friends look after one another and stay safe.
  • Go out together, leave together.
    Go out as a group and come home as a group. Don’t separate and leave your friends behind. If you do have to leave early, make sure that everyone knows that you’re leaving and make sure someone in your group is sober enough to drive when they eventually decide to leave.
  • Look out for others.
    If you are walking at night with friends and notice someone who looks unsure or afraid walking alone in the same direction, ask them to join you so they don’t have to walk alone.
  • Diffuse situations. 
    If you see a friend or a stranger coming on too strong to someone who may be too drunk to consent to sex, try interrupting, distracting, or redirecting 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. This doesn’t mean that you should make assumptions or profile people based on stereotypes or your biases. Use your head and do your best to identify bad situations. How Can my Friends & I be Safe?

Interested in receiving bystander intervention training? Visit stepup.fiu.edu and request a workshop!

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Contact

Office of the Vice President for Student Affairs
GC 219 (MMC) or WUC 325 (BBC)
305-348-2797
dos@fiu.edu

Office Hours

Monday - Friday 8 am to 5 pm