Playlist teacher guide - Stepping in

Playlist information

Playlist summary

This playlist unpacks the Stepping In process and explores some of the factors that influence whether we should intervene or not.

Playlist purpose

The content of this playlist supports students to:

  • Understand the reasons why bystanders may or may not intervene when they witness disrespectful or abusive behaviour.
  • Challenge disrespectful behaviour in a safe way that does not escalate the situation.

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Learning objectives

  • Know how and when to safely support and help someone who may be experiencing violence or abuse.
  • Understand that not acting to challenge or prevent disrespectful or violent behaviour can be seen as supporting this behaviour.
  • Understand the role that peer influence, support and safety can play on our willingness to intervene in situations where disrespectful behaviours are occurring.
  • Propose practical and ethical ways to intervene in situations where disrespectful or violent behaviours are occurring.

Key messages

  • Bystanders can play a powerful role in challenging and preventing disrespectful behaviour.
  • If it’s safe to do so, bystanders can play a key role in helping victims of violence to feel and be safe.
  • Preventing violence is everybody’s responsibility, but it needs to be done safely.
  • Highlighting and challenging disrespectful language and behaviours can have positive benefits for society.

Year level(s) appropriate for

Year 10, Year 11, Year 12

Australian curriculum links

Propose, practise and evaluate responses in situations where external influences may impact on their ability to make healthy and safe choices.

Plan, rehearse and evaluate options (including CPR and first aid) for managing situations where their own or others’ health, safety and wellbeing may be at short or long-term risk.

Media items

Stepping in

Type: Video.

Duration: 4 minutes.

Source: The Good Society.

Summary: This video covers when and how to step in as bystanders when we see disrespectful, toxic or abusive behaviours toward friends or strangers.

Survey questions:

  1. Question number 1. If you witnessed a similar scene on public transport, would you feel confident to step in? Answers
    1. a.Yes, absolutely
    2. b.Yes, but only if I was with a group of friends who’d back me up
    3. c.Maybe, it would depend whether the person was bigger than me
    4. d.Probably not, it’s too risky because you don’t know how they might react.
    Discussion points:

    The level of confidence people have in their own capacity to take action has a big impact on whether they will step in to intervene or challenge disrespectful or abusive behaviour. The level of peer support they expect to receive if they were to take action is also a key factor in deciding to step in. Remember you don’t have to step in but if it is safe to do so it can help someone out of a potentially harmful situation. The three key steps in this video provide the way to step in safely:

    Step 1: Check in

    Step 2: Disrupt

    Step 3: Recruit

    By following these steps you can make sure that if you do decide to step in, you are not going to escalate a situation and potentially put your safety or anyone else’s in danger.

Why is bystander behaviour important?

Type: Page.

Duration: 3 minutes.

Source: The Good Society.

Summary: When do we become a bystander? Why are our choices important?

Survey questions:

  1. Question number 1. If you witnessed a line move, would you step in? Answers
    1. a.Yes
    2. b.No
    3. c.Maybe
    Discussion points:

    There are good reasons why some people would choose not to step in when they witness a line move. There are also good reasons why someone would choose to step in if the see a line move. The decision is always a personal one that you need to weigh up yourself. To discuss this further, ask the following questions:

    • If a line move is about to happen, what things would you need to consider when deciding whether to step in?
    • If the line move is in progress, what could you do to stop it from escalating?
    • If the line move is finished, what could you do to prevent it from happening again in future?

The Bystanders

Type: Video.

Duration: 3 minutes.

Source: Indiana University. ()

Summary: Sometimes hidden camera videos are trash, but this one is good: bystanders react to scenes staged at an American university.

Survey questions:

  1. Question number 1. Would you have the courage to show that you care in these situations? Answers
    1. a.Yes
    2. b.No
    3. c.Maybe
    Discussion points:

    Stepping in takes courage and requires someone to trust their instincts that what they are witnessing is a line move.

    The 3 step process for stepping in that we have learnt about gives you a plan of how to step in, with courage and to be sure that you are doing the right thing.

    Step 1 is a great way to make sure your instincts about a situation are spot on – either check in with the person who the line is being moved on, or check in with another bystander and see what their take is of the situation.

    If you don’t feel like you have the courage to challenge the line mover directly then using Step 2: Disrupt can be a less confrontational way of stepping in.

    If you don’t feel like you can step in by yourself then recruit the help of other bystanders – courage comes with numbers.

Real-Life Stories Of Bystander Intervention

Type: Video.

Duration: 2 minutes.

Source: National Center for Student Success . ()

Summary: A couple of quick anecdotes from young people talking about moments where they’ve helped or been helped by bystanders.

Survey questions:

  1. Question number 1. Would you want someone to step in if someone was moving the line on you? Answers
    1. a.Yes
    2. b.No
    3. c.Depends on the circumstance
    Discussion points:

    Empathy is a really important aspect when it comes to making the decision to step in and intervene when you witness disrespectful behaviour. If you are able view the situation from the perspective of the victim you are more likely to make a decision to intervene. By imagining how you would want people to react if you were in the same situation, you can work out a plan of how you should react to intervene.

    • How would you want people to react if you were in a situation where someone was moving the line on you?
    • Are there any situations where you would definitely not want people to step in? Why?

How to step in

Type: Page.

Duration: 4 minutes.

Source: The Good Society.

Summary: Stepping in: great idea, but what do you actually do or say?

Survey questions:

  1. Question number 1. Do you think the Check-in, Disrupt, Recruit process is an easy way to think about stepping in? Answers
    1. a.Yes
    2. b.No
    Discussion points:

    The 3 step process for stepping in gives you a plan of how to intervene safely..

    Step 1 is a great way to make sure your instincts about a situation are spot on – either check in with the person who the line is being moved on, or check in with other bystanders and see what their take is of the situation.

    If you don’t want to challenge the line mover directly then using tactics to disturb and distract can help to disrupt (Step 2) the situation and can be a less confrontational way of stepping in.

    If you don’t feel like you can step in alone then using Step 3 to recruit the help of other bystanders can create safety in numbers and mean that you are able to present a group response that shows the perpetrator that what they are doing is not acceptable.

    To explore stepping in further, discuss the following questions:

    • What strategies have you used, or witnessed being used effectively to step in when a line has been/is being moved?
    • What strategies have you witnessed or used yourself that didn’t work so great when trying to step in?

www.whoareyou.co.nz

Type: Video.

Duration: 8 minutes.

Source: www.whoareyou.co.nz . ()

Summary: There are usually lots of smaller line moves that lead up to any big act of assault or abuse. How many people could step in at any of those moments, and change the outcome entirely?

Survey questions:

  1. Question number 1. Have you ever stepped in when you have witnessed a line move? Answers
    1. a.Yes
    2. b.No
    Discussion points:

    In situations where a line move is happening, there are often many witnesses to the disrespectful behaviour. Sometimes we will witness a line move and assume it is someone else’s responsibility to step in. If all of the witnesses think it’s someone else’s problem, then what happens is no one steps in and harm could be caused.

    To unpack this further, use a range of different party-based scenarios to explore the sliding door moments where bystanders could choose to step in or choose to ignore and discuss what the outcomes of each choice might be for the line mover and the person having the line moved on them.

Pushing back on culture

Type: Page.

Duration: 4 minutes.

Source: The Good Society.

Summary: What do you do when you see someone just generally being mean or disrespectful, but it’s not actually a line move? Is it still worth stepping in? Why? And how?

Survey questions:

  1. Question number 1. If you were to step in and stop a line move in the company of your friends, would they support you? Answers
    1. a.Yes
    2. b.No
    3. c.Maybe
    Discussion points:

    The behaviour we accept, the jokes we laugh at and the comments that we allow all create the culture in which we exist. If we want to change the way people behave towards each other, and encourage people to be respectful of everyone then we need to speak up and challenge behaviour that is disrespectful. By challenging disrespect within our own peer groups (both online and offline) we can start to influence the culture and social norms that are acceptable within our communities.

Stop it at the Start: Detention

Type: Video.

Duration: 1 minute.

Source: The Australian Government. ()

Summary: What kind of small signals shape a culture? How early should you step in to change it?

Survey questions:

  1. Question number 1. Do you agree that what you learn as a child about gender and respect will influence the way you behave as an adult? Answers
    1. a.Yes
    2. b.Agree in some cases
    3. c.No
    Discussion points:

    Gender stereotypes and associated social norms impact on beliefs about roles and how a person should behave in a relationship - whether that be an intimate relationship, familial relationship or workplace relationship. Young people make decisions about their lives and relationships and are influenced by what behaviours are encouraged or discouraged by their peers, family or broader society, sometimes without even realising it.

    Discuss this further by exploring different social norms that are related to gender in the Gender playlist (part of the Influences topic).

Doing Nothing Does Harm

Type: Web.

Duration: 4 minutes.

Source: Our Watch. ()

Summary: What is the impact of doing nothing when you see someone normalising disrespectful behaviour? Even if it’s just something they are saying?

Survey questions:

  1. Question number 1. Do you agree the attitudes in these videos reflect a disrespectful culture? Answers
    1. a.Definitely
    2. b.To some extent
    3. c.Probably not
    4. d.No
    5. e.Don’t know
    Discussion points:

    Students should be encouraged to engage with how these scenarios are presented, and might criticise them as unrealistic. The behaviour of the offensive character is quite stereotypical and old-fashioned, but it’s not uncommon to encounter such attitudes in daily life.

    • What are the attitudes that these ads are trying to illustrate?
    • Do students agree they are problematic social norms?
    • If not, why not?
    • If so, what would be better social norms?
    • If students are critical of the scripting of these videos, how would they dramatise these attitudes if they were making an ad like this?
  2. Question number 2. If you’d been a bystander at that table for any of those scenes, would you have stepped in? Answers
    1. a.Definitely
    2. b.Maybe
    3. c.Probably not
    4. d.No
    5. e.Don’t know
    Discussion points:

    These scenes show people failing to act. The clear message is that they should have done something, and that if that window closes then culture is reinforced.

    • If students thought they would step in, why and how?
    • If not, why not? What would be their response to someone who did?

The Bystander Effect | The Science of Empathy

Type: Video.

Duration: 5 minutes.

Source: Soul Pancake. ()

Summary: This video is fun because it’s a little social experiment showing what’s commonly understood to be “the bystander effect”, where nobody in a group offers to help someone. But there’s another explanation for what’s going on here.

Survey questions:

  1. Question number 1. Have you ever been in a situation where you didn’t intervene because you were in a crowd of people and you thought someone else would? Answers
    1. a.Yes
    2. b.No
    Discussion points:

    This video shows an example of “the bystander effect” or “diffusion of responsibility”—the idea that the more people who are around, then the more individuals assume someone else will take care of a problem. This create the perverse outcome that the more people who are around, then the less likely it is that someone will be helped.

    BUT there is a completely different explanation for the phenomenon which makes more sense, and isn’t so pessimistic: which is that people are social animals and respond to social norms and cues.

    If you run an experiment like this and instruct the larger group to not respond to another person’s distress, then the test subject is going to take their cue from the rest of the group—they don’t want to buck the consensus.

    But if you left people to their own devices, and didn’t deliberately set up a norm of non-intervention, then you’d probably find they err on the side of helping another person in distress.

    If they had run the experiment with the group composition reversed—9 test subjects and 1 plant, then they probably would have found very different results. For instance, compare the results from this video to the Indiana University Bystanders video earlier in this playlist, in which people regularly jump to the assistance of others despite there being crowds.

    This isn’t to say that diffusion of responsibility doesn’t exist—there are certainly situations when we assume someone else is taking care of something—but it’s certainly much less clear cut than is presented in this video.

    Nonetheless, the video is an entertaining demonstration, and the critique of its methods can be a great springboard for discussion.

    If you want more detailed analysis of the bystander effect, see this TEDTalk: The Bystander Effect is complicated https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ufs8cKyzLvg

Teaching bystanders to intervene

Type: Video.

Duration: 11 minutes.

Source: TED. ()

Summary: In this TED Talk, a speaker who works in violence prevention talks about the need and opportunity to teach civility as a way of creating respect and compassion in our culture.

Survey questions:

  1. Question number 1. Do you think more people in our society need to take responsibility for stepping in? Answers
    1. a.Yes
    2. b.No
    3. c.Maybe
    Discussion points:

    If you answered this question with yes then you have just diffused your responsibility to take action. Rather than worrying about whether other people should take more responsibility for stepping in, just focus on when you can assume responsibility and take action. Remember that action could be you directly helping by stepping in or it could be you going and getting someone else who can step in, such as an adult, a police officer, or phoning a support organisation for advice.
    To unpack responsibility and civility further, discuss the following questions:

    • How can you be the one that makes the difference in your community?
    • What action can you take to bring back civility?
    • Who can you recruit to help you make a difference and challenge disrespect and abuse?

Activities and extras

The conversations generated through engaging with this playlist could be built upon and reinforced using roleplays, scenarios or group activities where students practise and refine strategies for:

  • Using the check-in, disrupt, recruit steps to step in when they witness line moves
  • Challenge disrespectful attitudes that people demonstrate through racist or sexist comments or jokes, lude comments about women or insulting descriptions of other people or groups.