Upstanding – stepping up to prevent violence at USU

At Utah State University, “Upstanding” is a bystander intervention approach to the prevention of sexual violence and other problems.

Emmalee Fishburn is a preventative specialist in Affirmative Action and Equal Opportunity. She said students are taught the three D’s of being an upstander.

“Direct, delegate and distract,” she explained. “And what research about bystander intervention programs has found is that when you offer participants a wide variety of options for helping, they are more likely to feel they can actually do something about a problem when they do encounter it.”

Fishburn said in the two years since the program’s implementation it is working.

“What we do during the training is really put students into sample scenarios where they are tasked with figuring out how would you respond, what would you do? And that has increased their confidence to know what to do if they encounter that in the future.”

Fishburn said the “bystander effect” means that people are less likely to offer help to a victim when other people are present. The greater the number of bystanders, the less likely it is that any one of them will help. But once one person intervenes, others will join, and bystanders become upstanders.

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