Bystander Intervention

What is bystander intervention?

Many of us witness situations where we are uncomfortable with what we are seeing. We may think that what is happening is harmful or that someone is being hurt. Even though we want to do something, we might be unsure of what we CAN do.

For example, we might hear a joke that uses hurtful language and stereotypes, see a photo that was meant to be private or suspect that someone we know is in an abusive relationship.

It can be especially hard to speak up if we think that we are the only one who senses something is wrong.

Bystander intervention is about learning to identify abusive behaviour and to trust ourselves to identify this behaviour. It is also about learning to intervene in ways that are safe and make a difference.

Bystander intervention helps communities to work together to end violence. Saying no to violence is easier for others when they know they are not acting alone.

This video by BeLonG to Youth Services shows a very moving example of bystander intervention. However, bystander intervention does not always have to be the “big” actions. Sometimes simply checking in with someone to see if they are ok or to tell them you think what you saw was wrong can make a big difference.



Another example of bystander intervention is the Draw the Line campaign in Ontario. This campaign asks people to think about what they would say or do to take a stand against sexual violence. It does this by presenting scenarios to start people talking about this topic.

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The White Ribbon Campaign works to say no to violence. The White Ribbon campaign began in Canada and is the world’s biggest movement of boys and men working to end violence against women. The campaign is dedicated to creating greater gender equality, promoting healthy relationships and changing ideas about what it means to be a man. To learn more about their work, visit their website:

White Ribbon Campaign

A Challenge to Men – Spoken word by Jeremy Loveday