Bystanders play a significant role in a variety of situations and their impact is always unpredictable. In the context of bullying or harassment, one witnessing such incidents may unconsciously contribute to the harmful behavior through silence and inaction. However, it has been proved that these people can significantly alter the outcome of these situations. To take proper consideration, we never want to take advantage anyone's will to take action, but rather having people understand the essential effect that they would create by enacting based on their ability. We understand that everyone deserves to feel safe and comfortable about themselves and in whatever the situation is. At the same time, as a community, it's also critical to acknowledge the danger around us, work as a team, take the part that is most suitable for your ability, and take courage to help people in need. This leads us to the next step, which is bystander intervention.
Bystander intervention is the act of feeling empowered and equipped with the knowledge and skills to effectively assist in the prevention of inappropriate behavior or assault. Bystander intervention and bystander education programs teach potential witnesses safe and positive ways to prevent or intervene when there is a risk for violence. This approach gives students specific roles that they can use in preventing assault, including naming and stopping situations that could lead to violence before it happens, stepping in during an incident, and speaking out against ideas and behaviors that support violence. It also gives students the skills to be an effective and supportive ally to victims in the aftermath of violence.
The following are essential components of our unit's bystander intervention program:
(1) Creating and nurturing a climate of caring for all students and staff.
(2) Teaching students to recognize instances of bullying and distinguish between tattling and reporting.
(3) Teaching students to develop empathy for victims and dealing with guilt for not intervening (not blaming the victim).
(4) Teaching students how to report bullying to adults and to develop effective means of intervention.
(5) Setting up a peer warning system.
(6) Empowering bystanders to intervene.
(7) Teaching conflict resolution skills.
Bystander Intervention training is being incorporated into the leadership training that is given each year within our NJROTC classrooms. The ultimate goal of the NJROTC Bystander Intervention Program is that it be led by the senior cadet staff. If you would like more information on the specific aspects of Bystander Intervention, contact Adjutant Samira Mendez.