Elizabeth Roche, SPHR, SHRM-SCP


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Making the Case for Bystander Training

By Elizabeth Roche, SPHR, SHRM-SCP on Mar 14, 2018 8:29:49 AM

An Essential Component of Sexual Harassment Prevention Training

Recently, workplace sexual harassment prevention training programs have made the case for including “bystander” intervention training. Historically, bystander intervention training has been used in elementary and middle schools to address bullying, and on college campuses and in the military in an effort to prevent sexual assault.

Who are “bystanders”, and what role do they play in harassment prevention?

In the context of the workplace, “bystanders” are defined as individuals who observe harassment of others in the workplace, while “targets” are the individuals who directly experience the harassing behavior. Bystanders can include a range of people, including co-workers, managers or supervisors, human resources and union representatives, and other individuals to whom harassment is reported. Co-workers who are informed of violence and harassment through the workplace grapevine can also become bystanders. 

The behavior may be serious or minor, one-time or repeated, but the bystander recognizes that the behavior is inappropriate, intimidating, offensive, a violation of policy or even physically threatening.

 

Bystander approaches focus on the ways in which individuals who are not the targets of the conduct 

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