FORT MCCOY, WI, UNITED STATES
Fort McCoy Family members learned to intervene in problematic situations during a session of the Green Dot program just for teens Jan. 24 at the School-Age Center/Youth Center.
The Green Dot program teaches how individuals can intervene when they see harassment, bullying, or abuse instead of being passive bystanders. The Green Dot program is the curriculum for Fort McCoy's 2017 Sexual Harassment/Assault Response and Prevention, or SHARP, training, but the Jan. 24 class focused specifically on problems teens face.
When someone harasses, bullies, or uses violence against another person, that's a red dot, SHARP Victim Advocate Sarah Sullivan said. But when another person intervenes or is a proponent against such actions, that creates a green dot. The goal is to create more green dots in a community than red dots.
Sullivan said there are a lot of barriers to intervention, or reasons why someone might not intervene in a situation. "Maybe it's a close Family member or a friend who's doing the harm, so we don't intervene because it makes us uncomfortable," she said.
Sullivan asked the teens to write down reasons someone might not step in to help during a particular situation, such as hearing a friend's sister and her boyfriend arguing while visiting.
"You hear her say, 'Leave me alone,' then a loud bang, and then more arguing. Your friend's parents aren't home," she said.
Some Family members said they might be hesitant to say anything because the boyfriend is older and bigger, and they might get hurt, too. Others said they would be worried about creating more or worsening problems in the relationship.
In another scenario, a classmate's iPhone was missing, and the classmate suspected the only black person in the class of taking it. Some said they might not say anything because it would be embarrassing or uncomfortable. One paper stated the writer wouldn't get involved because it wasn't his or her iPhone.
Sullivan said that brought up a good point. Many people won't intervene because it isn't their problem. "But it really affects everyone when people say or do mean things," she said. To illustrate the point, she played a video likening sexual assault and harassment to a bear in the room — just because the bear will only attack one in five people doesn't mean it can be ignored.
The next step is learning how to be an active bystander instead of a passive one. There are three primary options when intervening, Sullivan said.
"We call them the three D's — direct, delegate, or distract," she said. Direct intervention is simply speaking up when you see something negative happening. "You guys are really good at direct intervening because as soon as I read one of those situations, you said, 'Hey, that's not OK.'"
For people who are uncomfortable with direct intervention, delegating or distracting are good options. Delegating intervention involves going to someone else, such as a teacher, police officer, or other responsible adult, and telling him or her about the situation. To stop bullying or harassment, a bystander only needs to pull attention away from the victim.
"A good distraction might be pointing down the hall and saying, 'Hey, a teacher's coming!'" Sullivan said.
Next, the teens brainstormed ideas of how to intervene in certain situations. The most popular approach was to directly intervene by saying something to a bully, whether it was saying the bullying wasn't acceptable or trying to make the bully empathize with the victim. They also suggested telling the bully's parents about what they're doing.
The teens enjoyed the program, especially the bear video and the interactive exercises, Sullivan said.
Fort McCoy Family member Jillian Roou said the program taught her how to stick up for other people. Brooklynn Haun, also a Family member, said she thought the class was fun and a good learning experience.
"Instead of being a red dot, you should be a green dot, or the person who tells the other person to stop and sticks up for other people," Haun said. "When I see someone be rude to another person, I will stand up for the victim."
For more information about the Green Dot and SHARP programs, call Army Community Service at 608-388-3505. For more information about Child and Youth Services, call 608-388-8956.
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This work, Fort McCoy teens learn to intervene at Green Dot program, by Aimee Malone, identified by DVIDS, is free of known copyright restrictions under U.S. copyright law.