Bystander Intervention and Effective Helping Strategies
Peers are among the most crucial influences in our lives. We depend on our friends to encourage us when we need help and to cheer us on when we are excelling. As a friend and peer, you are, also, the best candidate to address concerns about the behaviors of those closest to you. It can be intimidating and scary. If you would like more training, contact Dean McGhee in the Office of Student Conduct at 804-752-3205 or
A Few Bystander Intervention Tips:
Always address the emotion before addressing the content of your discussion.
The 5 Point Formula
Let the person know you care about him/her and that because of the significance of the relationship you need to discuss something very important. Both starting and ending the discussion with an emphasis that you are doing this out of genuine concern, caring and respect for the person, sandwiches the difficult feedback between strong positives. Choose words you are comfortable with and fit your style.
Report/Review actual events with your friend, as you perceive them. Remember you are evaluating the behavior not the person. Try to limit your statements to observable, irrefutable facts. The more you have, the better.
Tell the person your own feelings using “I statements” to reveal your feelings.
Tell the person what you would like to see happen.
Specify what you will or will not do. Only set ultimatums if you can, and will, stick to them.
Adapted from Step Up!, University of Massachusetts, Amherst Health Services, Virginia Alcohol Safety Action Program, and The BACCHUS Network.