Don’t Stand By, Stand Up!
Together we can create a safer and healthier Western—and Bellingham—community by being active bystanders who take action when we notice a problem. Here’s how:
Step 1: Recognize a Problem
Become an active bystander by identifying a potentially harmful or dangerous situation, including:
- Unwanted physical/sexual contact
- Derogatory language or harassment
- Unsafe drug and/or alcohol use
- Mental health concerns
Trust Your Gut
If you recognize a problem and take action, it’s likely others will notice the potential problem, too, and support your actions.
Remember, if you choose to take action, ensure your safety first.
Step 2: Make the Choice
Sometimes people don’t intervene because they think someone else will. Making the choice to intervene means you are building an inclusive and caring environment for all. Inaction could put someone’s well-being at risk.
Not everyone will notice a problem, and even if others do, you might be the only one willing to take action. Whether it’s speaking up or helping directly, it’s up to you to determine how best to act.
- What are the potential consequences of not intervening?
- If I was in that situation, would I want someone to intervene?
- How would I feel if it was a good friend or family member in that situation?
- Can I safely intervene?
Step 3: Take Action
When you take action, it’s important to approach everyone as a friend, avoid physical intervention, and stay level-headed, non-judgmental, and open-minded.
Intervening is most effective when safety, assertiveness, and awareness are at the forefront of your actions. Consider intervening directly or indirectly, which can look like:
Approach the situation and ask the person who needs help questions such as:
- “Are you okay?”
- “Do you want me to sit with you?”
- “Do you need help?”
Approach the situation and divert the conversation with questions such as:
- “Hey, aren’t you in my biology class?”
- “Excuse me, do you know what time it is?”
- “I like that bag. Where did you get it?”
- Ask a friend/another bystander to step in
- Call 911 or another authority
Medical Amnesty Law
Washington’s Medical Amnesty Law states that if you think someone is overdosing or has alcohol poisoning and you seek medical help for them, generally, neither of you will be legally charged for possessing or using drugs or for minor in possession (RCW 69.50.315).