Skip to content

Active Bystanders

A bystander is a person who observes a behavior that is unacceptable and could be potentially damaging to another person’s health or well-being.

Examples include alcohol abuse, hazing, violence, sexual assault, relationship abuse, and discrimination.

An active bystander is a person who takes the steps that can make a difference.

Volunteers Speak UP! encourages the students, faculty, and staff of our Volunteer community to trust the voice within themselves that senses when something is wrong and to pay attention to their surroundings in order to overcome the barriers that keep them from helping the person for which they are concerned.

As an active bystander, you

  • Trust the voice within yourself,
  • Acknowledge the situation,
  • Evaluate your options,
  • Assume responsibility, and
  • Respond appropriately

Sources: Ancona, D. G., Kochan, T. A., Scully, M., Van Maneen, J., and Westney, D. E. (2004), Managing the Future: Organizational Behavior and Processes, 2nd edition, Southwestern. Retrieved from,,, and

The flagship campus of the University of Tennessee System and partner in the Tennessee Transfer Pathway.