Training Active Bystanders

Training Active Bystanders

Training Active Bystanders (TAB) heightens awareness of bystanders’ power. It teaches when passivity becomes complicity and how bystanders can interrupt harm doing and generate positive actions by others. We emphasize that active bystandership does not mean aggression against the harm doer. It promotes responsibility for others and competencies to safely help those in need. TAB gives bystanders the competencies they need if they decide to take action when they witness something they feel is unfair, or wrong, or troubling.

Utilizing a train-the-trainers model, TAB has been replicated in different cultural and age diverse settings. Since 2008, TAB has been implemented in over 10 school districts, training over 1,800 students to teach the curriculum to 18,000 of their peers. Additionally, TAB has been implemented in numerous community settings, encouraging community members to become morally courageous Active Bystanders.

Key Language and Concepts

  • Bystander – a witness, someone who is in a position to know what is happening and is in a position to act.
  • Active Bystander – a bystander who acts to stop harm
  • Passive or negative bystander – one who ignores, watches passively, joins in and is complicit in what is happening.
  • Target –the recipient of harm.
  • Harmdoer – the person who engages in doing harm to others.

Promoters of active bystandership:

    • Empathy
    • Self-interest, reciprocity
    • Inclusive caring
    • Responsibility for others
    • Competency to help
    • Moral courage

Inhibitors of active bystandership:

    • Pluralistic ignorance
    • Ambiguity of the need for help
    • Diffusion of responsibility
    • Fear of disapproval
    • Danger or cost of helping