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Psychological Counseling Center

How to be an Active Bystander


Bystanders are the largest group involved in violent, oppressive and insensitive acts.  They greatly outnumber perpetrators and victims/survivors, and they have the power to stop abuse and to get help for those being victimized.

Active bystanders are people who are aware of a conflict or an unacceptable situation, including an abusive, oppressive, or violent situation, and choose to speak up or do something, without putting their own safety at risk.

Some behaviors which a SUNY New Paltz student may observe and which may prompt active bystander interventions are:

  • Rude, inconsiderate behaviors or language
  • Offensive or derogatory humor
  • Escalating conflict
  • Dangerous behaviors or threats
  • Harassment or bullying
  • Pressuring advances

Safe active bystander choices include:

  • Telling someone else about what you are observing
  • Diffusing the situation by redirecting the persons involved
  • Asking if the offended person wants help
  • Asking if the distressed person wants to leave; if so, leave with others
  • Calling 911 or University Police (845-257-2222) if there is immediate danger

How to help yourself and your friends be safe:

  • Make a plan
  • Stay with your group and watch out for one another
  • Call for help if needed
  • Use the campus Escort Service (845-257-3338) for late night walks across campus, 10a.m. - 4p.m.