A new strategy to help prevent violence, Bystander Intervention, was presented recently by the Utah Department of Health (UDOH).
“It is a national and international approach to preventing sexual and relationship violence, and interpersonal violence in general,” said Marty Liccardo of the UDOH Violence and Injury Prevention Program. “We are asking people to intervene before, during and after they witness violence or harm of another person.”
Liccardo said most people, if you ask them, want to help stop violence if they encounter it. He said UDOH training explains common barriers that keep most people from intervening.
“What we like to do is get a little more in depth and talk about why people choose not to intervene. Sometimes it’s fear of reprisal, sometimes it is insecurity about whether they can handle the situation and sometimes it’s just believing they’re not quite sure if what they are seeing is even a problem.”
He said the program teaches skills and learning on how to intervene in safe and helpful ways to make sure you keep yourself and others involved safe.
Liccardo said this training is appealing to prevention officials because it can reduce victim-blaming, shift unhealthy and negative social norms to more positive beliefs and help every person find their place in violence prevention.
“Maybe you would do an indirect approach, just asking the couple ‘what time is it?’ or ‘can you all give me directions somewhere?’ At the very least it pops them out of the fight they’re having, they notice another person is witnessing it. You may not prevent them from being violent in the future, but you at least stopped that violence in the first place.”
He said one of the goals of the programs if you don’t step in is that you do something, maybe going to get help from law enforcement.
“Anyone interested in creating a training to teach people in your community some basic skills on how to intervene in violence, please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.”