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Bystander Intervention Policy

Bystander Intervention Policy

By Michaela Simpson, GA Assessment & Curriculum

What is the bystander effect? The more people there are who witness a situation where someone needs help, the less likely it is that someone will actually intervene. Therefore, no one intervenes, because you assume someone else will do something.

One of the most famous cases of the bystander effect in action took place in 1964, when Kitty Genovese was murdered in a New York City alleyway. Over 37 people walked by, heard her screams, and witnessed her being murdered but did not stop to call the police. When these people were later interviewed, the majority said “I thought someone else would have already called.” But nobody called.

Bystander intervention is recognizing a potentially harmful situation or interaction and choosing to respond in a way that could positively influence the outcome. Choosing to intervene can be scary, but there are several small ways to make a big difference.

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