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Be an Active Bystander

Sometimes, a situation just does not feel right. It might be comments made by a friend that you feel are inappropriate; you might be worried about someone who has had too much to drink or you spot someone being harassed at a community event.

Being an active bystander means being aware when someone’s behaviour is inappropriate or threatening and choosing to challenge it, or by assisting someone who needs support. If you do not feel comfortable doing this directly, then get someone to help you such as a friend or security staff. You can be an active bystander online by reporting inappropriate posts straight away to the social media platform.

Research shows that bystander intervention can be an effective way of stopping situations before they happen, as bystanders play a key role in preventing, discouraging, and/or intervening when an act of violence has the potential to occur. We all have a responsibility to look out for each other if we can do so safely, by treating others with respect and offering support if we see that someone needs assistance.

Say something

Challenge inappropriate behaviour:

Straight away –  if you can address the situation straight away without putting yourself at risk, then act now. You may choose to speak to the person affected by the behaviour rather than addressing the person causing the issue.

Polite – Don’t aggravate the situation- so think about your tone of voice, body language, how you address people. Remain calm and state politely what action is needed.

Evidence – stick to exactly what has happened, don’t exaggerate or argue as this could escalate rather than de-escalate the situation.

Avoid confrontation – if the situation is too dangerous to challenge then and there (such as there is the threat of violence or you are outnumbered) just walk away and get support quickly

Know who to speak to – In urgent situations always contact 999 without delay. On campus if you feel unsure what to do next you can report issues to DMU Security or arrange an appointment to speak to a Mandala responder or No Space for Hate adviser if you need support. If you are out socialising or at a community event look for venue security who will be best placed to assist you.

How you could help

  1. 1. Be Direct: If it is safe to do so let people know that their actions or language are unacceptable and ask them to stop. If you know them, use statements that name the behaviour and how you feel: “I feel ____ when you ____ . Please don’t do that any more.” Or “Do you think that is acceptable?” Let them know the consequences of their behaviour.

  2. Distract: Interrupt, start a conversation with the person to allow their potential target to move away or have friends intervene.

  3. Delegate: If you spot a situation which worries you, find someone to help such as venue security staff. Always call 999 if you need urgent assistance.

Student training sessions

The Mandala Project and DMU Sport have collaborated to develop an Active Bystander training session. This project was nominated for a Take a Stand award in 2019. If you’d like more information about this session email us via also offer regular training and support to their clubs and societies. Find out more via

How can I help?

If a friend lets you know that they need support in relation to sexual harassment or abuse, tell them The Mandala Project. You can support the Mandala project though the development of campaigns, events and training opportunities for fellow students such as our annual ‘Light the Night’ event.

Follow us on twitter to find out more @dmu_mandala.