Active Bystanders’ Training: Creating Safety in Contentious Times

If you are a bystander witnessing a harmful situation, you have a choice to make. Do you do something? What do you do?

Training Active Bystanders (TAB) was developed by Quabbin Mediation of Orange, MA. TAB helps participants recognize when they are bystanders, analyze situations, and evaluate the consequences for everyone involved. TAB heightens bystanders’ power. It teaches how bystanders can interrupt harm doing and generate positive actions by others. Active bystandership does not mean aggression against the harm doer. It means taking responsible action to help people in need instead of remaining passive and becoming complicit. Bystanders gain the competencies they need if they decide to take action when they witness something they feel is unfair, or wrong, or troubling.

Seminar Content

The TAB curriculum covers the following:

  • Defines the roles of individuals involved in a harmful situation (target, harm doer, bystander) and assists participants in discovering the positive power of bystanders;
  • Reveals the universal inhibitors that lead to inaction on the part of bystanders and witnesses when harmful actions are going on and discusses how to overcome them;
  • Examines the promoters of active bystandership (moral courage, inclusive caring, responsibility for others, etc.);
  • Stresses safety and helps participants develop a variety of intervention techniques;
  • Helps participants create action plans to break the inhibitors in the future when they encounter harm doing.

Instruction Style

Lessons are interactive, using large and small group activities, brainstorming and role plays. The power of TAB comes from the way the program becomes, through conversation, specifically relevant to participants’ lives.

TAB is taught by peers to their communities. This makes the TAB message powerfully relevant and easily replicable in diverse settings since trainers are of the culture in which they teach. Each group walks away from that experience with a changed and empowered vision of an individual’s role in creating a supportive and engaged community.

Minimum number of participants is 10 people. TAB is appropriate for anyone 12 years old and older.