Bystander Intervention and the Rape Case at Richmond High School in CA and the Beating in Southside Chicago
“To see what is right and not to do it is want of courage.”
Confucius, Chinese philosopher & reformer (551 BC – 479 BC)
With all of the recent cases where teenagers stood by as another teenager was beaten to death and/or raped, how do you interpret Confucius’s quote above? The country and the media is becoming more outraged on a daily basis as they discover details from the rape outside Richmond High School in California and the Southside beating in Chicago which lead to the death of a teenager. WHY are students lacking the courage to step in and stop another person from doing wrong? Maybe the better question is:
Has society FAILED to teach our students WHY Bystander Intervention is essential AND failed to provide students with the skills to do so?
As we travel teaching “Bystander Intervention” through our “Be a Friend” approach, students constantly remind us THEY WANT TO DO THE RIGHT THING! At first, they will say, “It is none of my business UNLESS it is someone I know.” When you ask them, “Wouldn’t you want a stranger to help SOMEONE YOU KNOW if you were not there?” they always say, “Of Course.” When you reply, “Well, you are that stranger,” students always remark, “Good Point!”
Then students admit the reason they don’t intervene as a stranger is because they are AFRAID of the person they would be stopping from doing the wrong. We teach students this is what we call the DANGEROUS WARNING. The moment your brain tells you to be afraid of a person, you brain is telling you this person is DANGEROUS. If you know the person is dangerous, you know intervening is doing the RIGHT THING. To make it less scary, get 3 or 4 friends together and intervene as a group. Another option is to get HELP (an authority figure at some level who can make a difference). Most teenagers simply have never learned these basic intervention skills or been taught the importance of WHY they should intervene. After we’ve presented the “Can I Kiss You?” program in their schools and on their campuses, students share inspiring stories of how they began to “Be a Friend” at parties and specifically share how it saved a person from danger (they simply didn’t see the WHY previously and didn’t know HOW).
This week in news coverage, you are hearing a lot about the SNITCH TAG. Why would you care if the SNITCH TAG is put on you? People are going to dislike you and say mean things about you throughout your life. If you live by others standards and to make others like you, you will always be controlled by others opinions and you will live a paranoid life. When you step in and take positive actions, you can always look in the mirror and say, “No matter what anyone thinks of me right now, I can smile knowing I helped another person by doing the RIGHT thing!”
We have a saying here at The Date Safe Project, Inc:
“If I absolutely know what I’m doing is morally, ethically, and legally right, then I don’t care what anyone else thinks of me!“
In my work, every month I meet individuals who someone drugged to sexually assault. Friends were around and did nothing. Peers were around and did nothing. These stories have been covered by the media (“Beware of Date Rape Drugs on Spring Break”). The case will stay in the headlines for a week or so – then be forgotten soon after. Don’t let this issue be forgotten. The outrage needs to change into Positive Education providing students a long-term SOLUTION which saves lives – Bystander Intervention!! Take action today by teaching others the importance of bystander intervention and then give them the skills to do so. Contact your local schools and ask them what they are doing to teach realistic solutions to tough conversations on Bystander Intervention. Provide your schools and college campuses with resources they can bring in to help their student body. Make a difference!
Author: Mike Domitrz