How to Be a Good Bystander

Photo by LePetitRusse

Photo by LePetitRusse

With Up Here 5 quickly approaching, it is time to talk about how the bystander effect can play a part in ensuring everyone has a safe and fun festival experience. If you see a situation that makes you feel uncomfortable, it’s likely a good indicator that someone may need help. A bystander can help defuse and end the situation and keep someone safe. If you see someone who got too much sun or has had too many drinks, you can make sure they get the help they need while staying safe.

The Dos and Don’ts

We’ve listed some dos and don’ts to help you be the best bystander you can be, allowing everyone to enjoy Up Here to the fullest (and safest)!

Do: Look for help

If you’re not comfortable intervening in a situation, ask for help! Don’t feel like you should put your safety at risk. Most of Up Here’s events will be taking place in crowded venues around Sudbury, meaning you have a built in back-up team. Whether it’s members of the Up Here team, staff, or other festival goers, you’ll have people around who can back you up on the small chance something goes south or if you need someone to direct you to further services.

Don’t: Assume someone else will step in

In a large crowd, it’s easy to think “someone else will help.” But you are someone! And you can help! Perhaps you heard someone say something creepy, maybe you have experience with a medical condition and know what it looks like, or maybe you’re the only one around. In any circumstance, if you see something that doesn’t sit right with you, it’s time to get involved, or get support, no matter how many other people are around.

Do: Evaluate the situation

What you decide to do as a bystander will depend on a number of factors. Trust your gut in these situations and evaluate how you can respond: Is someone in danger or are you helping deescalate a situation before it gets too out of hand? Are you safe? Are the person’s friends nearby and can you alert them of what’s happening?

Don’t: Be afraid to look silly

You may be hesitant to involve yourself if you’re not 100 per cent sure there is a need for intervention. I always tell myself it’s “better to be safe than sorry” in times like that, and opt to reach out anyway. If it happens to be a case of you misreading the situation, no decent person will be offended by your checking in. If you read the situation correctly, you and the person you’re helping will be happy you stepped in.

The Catchphrases

The hardest part about needing to jump in on short notice is not knowing what to say. So to wrap up, I’ll leave you with some quick phrases to have in your back pocket. Literally: You can print out this post!

“We don’t say/do that around here”

When someone says something out of line, or is acting in such a way that is making the situation not fun for you or others.

“Are you alright? Can I help you?”

When someone is looking generally uncomfortable or unwell where they are.


When something needs to be abruptly interrupted. You’d be surprised how quickly people will change their behaviour once they’re called out.

“Oh my goodness! (Insert fake name here) so happy to have run into you!”

When you need a slightly obnoxious way to take someone out of a conversation that they didn’t look like they were enjoying.

Remember that your safety is important too, though, and don’t put yourself in a situation you don’t feel safe in. The Up Here team is there to help, so please reach out and ask for help if/when you need it!

Photo by Lindsay Duncan

Photo by Lindsay Duncan

Amanda Battistuzzi