Bystander intervention: An XY collection

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Stand Speak Act - Bystander intervention

Bystander intervention is an increasingly common approach in violence prevention efforts. In this XY collection, I have compiled accessible resources on bystander intervention, references, and other materials. See below for full-text materials. Tabachnik's piece is a particularly useful, accessible introduction.

Also see XY's collection of short introductions to violence prevention, its collection of key reports and reviews on violence prevention, and this massive collection of references to writings and scholarship on a wide range of violence prevention strategies.

A brief introduction to bystanders and bystander intervention

“Bystanders are individuals who observe or are aware of violence and violence-supportive behaviours and incidents. This definition includes both ‘passive’ bystanders (those who take no action) and ‘active’ bystanders (those who take action to prevent or reduce the harm). Bystanders, in the violence prevention literature, are understood to be individuals who observe an act of violence, discrimination, or other problematic behaviour, but who are not its direct perpetrator or victim (Powell, 2011). Rather, bystanders are onlookers, spectators or otherwise present in some sense (although in some accounts of bystander intervention, the term ‘bystander’ expands to include those who directly perpetrate violence). Bystander approaches focus on the ways in which individuals who are not the targets of the conduct can intervene in violence, harassment or other anti-social behaviour in order to prevent and reduce harm to others (Powell, 2011). Work on bystanders to violence distinguishes between ‘passive’ bystanders, who do not act or intervene and ‘active bystanders’ who take action. Active or ‘pro-social’ bystanders may take action to:

  1. Stop the perpetration of a specific incident of violence;
  2. Reduce the risk of violence escalating and prevent the physical, psychological and social harms that may result; and
  3. Strengthen the conditions that work against violence occurring (Powell, 2011).”

[Note: The introduction above is taken from: Flood, M. (2018). Engaging Men and Boys in Violence Prevention, Palgrave Macmillan.]

Academic scholarship

See here for a comprehensive list of academic references on bystander intervention.

Also see:

Videos, communications, and social marketing materials

There are various communications and social marketing campaigns focused on bystander intervention, as well as videos introducing the area. See e.g.;