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Training Active Bystanders

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Cathedral High School students at a TAB Training for Trainers, winter 2016

A bystander is a witness—someone who sees a harmful situation and has a choice to make: Do I do something?  If so, what do I do?  

Training Active Bystanders (TAB) helps participants recognize when they are bystanders, analyzes the situation in which they find themselves, and evaluate the consequences for everyone involved. The TAB curriculum heightens bystanders’ power. It teaches how bystanders can interrupt harm doing and generate positive actions by others. We emphasize that active bystandership does not mean aggression against the harm doer. It means taking responsible action to help people in need, instead of remaining passive and becoming complicit. TAB gives bystanders the competencies they need when they witness something they feel is unfair, or wrong, or troubling. When people have the tools to create justice in the moment of need, it can transform those who take the training, the trainers, and the community.

TAB is taught by peer trainers to their communities, which makes the TAB message powerfully relevant and applicable across demographics. The lessons are interactive, using games, small group activities, group brainstorming, role plays and journal-writing. The power of TAB comes from those who engage in it—the peer teachers and the participants, the way the program becomes, through conversation, specifically relevant to their lives. Each group walks away from that experience with a changed and empowered vision of an individual’s role in creating a supportive and engaged community. 

Key Language and Concepts:

  • Bystander: A witness, someone who is in a position to know what is happening and to act
  • Active Bystander: A bystander who acts to stop harm
  • Passive or negative bystander: One who ignores, watches passively, joins in and is complicit in what is happening
  • Target: The recipient of harm
  • Harm doer: The person who engages in doing harm to others

Promoters of active bystandership:                            

  • Empathy
  •  Self-interest, reciprocity
  • Inclusive caring
  • Responsibility for others
  • Competency to help
  • Moral courage

Inhibitors of active bystandership:         

  • Pluralistic ignorance
  • Ambiguity of the need for help
  • Diffusion of responsibility
  • Fear of disapproval
  • Danger or cost of helping

Quabbin Mediation offers TAB trainings in schools, houses of worship, places of employment, and a variety of other community gathering spaces. Our curriculum is flexible to meet your needs.   Get in touch to discuss bringing TAB to your community.

If you would like to register for an upcoming Training Active Bystanders: Creating Safety In Contentious Times seminar, please go to our registration page.

Learn more about TAB schools, research, and resources at the Training Active Bystanders website:

http://www.trainingactivebystanders.org/

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