Have you ever been in a situation where you wanted to help someone but didn’t? You may have experienced the bystander effect.

Research tells us that if you are alone when witnessing an event, 80 percent of the time you will help. However, if you are with several people, the likelihood of you helping goes down to 20 percent. This is the bystander effect. It’s the paradox that states the more people are around, the fewer people actually do step up to help others.

The bystander effect can happen to people of all ages and backgrounds. It also happens in a wide variety of situations.

The question of “What stops us?” is complicated. However, there are five decisions that we make very quickly to decide if we are going to assist or not:

  1. Notice something is happening. To do so, we need to be present and notice our surroundings. Take out your ear buds, get off your phone, look around and make sure everyone around you is OK.
  2. Don’t second guess. If you see something you think is fishy, it probably is. Find out what is going on—ask questions! Something as simple as “Are you OK?” can often help determine if someone needs help or not.
  3. Take responsibility and address the situation. Call the police, call for help, just do something! It’s better to be safe than sorry.
  4. Decide to help. Doing something is better than doing nothing. You may save someone’s life or prevent a fight or assault from occurring. Our campus and community will be safer if we all decide to look out for one another.
  5. Know how to help. If you aren’t sure how to help, call someone who does such as Campus Police or 911.

Create a caring community

We all think we’ll never be in an emergency situation or things won’t happen to us. But it can easily be you or your friend who needs help. Redbird Respect bystander intervention training is available to student groups and organizations as well as faculty and staff through Health Promotion and Wellness. This program teaches people about the bystander effect in a variety of situations. The training also helps participants develop the skills and confidence to safely help others.

Bystander intervention training can be tailored to fit specific groups and situations. For more information, email Rebecca, call (309) 438-WELL (9355), or submit an online workshop request.