ABINGTON, Pa. — Are you OK? This simple phrase forms the centerpiece of Stand for State bystander intervention training at Penn State Abington. Faculty, staff and students are volunteering to learn actions to reduce relationship and sexual violence as part of Stand for State Action Week.
Abington staff from athletics and the Office of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion told faculty and staff at a training that the techniques are as simple as noticing subtle cues and connecting with others.
Rodriguez related a recent encounter: An interaction between two students sent up red flags for him so he stopped to ask if things were OK. The student he was concerned about assured him all was good, but when he saw her alone later he checked in again.
Rodriguez had executed the most common bystander intervention technique, a direct.
“It doesn’t have to be a big dramatic scene,” he said. “Remember, your own safety comes first.”
At the close of the training, Rodriguez reminded the audience: "We are each other’s keepers.”
Stand for State training includes learning signs of sexual and relationship violence and three actions that can interrupt and defuse potentially risky situations:
- Direct: Ask if everything is OK.
- Distract: Change the conversation and energy of the interaction by suggesting options such as going to talk to another person or moving to a different setting. For example: We were just about to leave or can you help me find my roommate?
- Delegate: Alert someone you believe can successfully intervene (another friend, public safety officer, faculty). At Abington, call 911 or campus security at 215-881-7575.
Stand for State is the official University training to prevent sexual assault, dating violence, and stalking through bystander intervention. Future intervention skills workshops will focus on mental health, bias, and alcohol and drug use.