ring the bell

Gratitude to a commenter who linked to India’s Bell Bajao campaign, targeting domestic violence.

It’s a bystander intervention. It doesn’t aim to change the behavior of either person the violent situation – not directly. It doesn’t even necessarily increase awareness of support services for survivors. It just asks bystanders – people aware of but outside the violent situation – to step in and diffuse the situation.

There is a curious paradox about why people don’t step in when they see something uncool happening. They notice the uncool thing and think, “Hm. That’s uncool. But what should I do?” And they look around and see that no one else is doing anything. The paradox is that they conclude that because everyone is doing the same thing they’re doing – i.e., nothing – all those other people must feel something different. “No one else is doing anything; if something were wrong, someone would do something.” We use others’ behavior rather than our own internal experience to gauge whether or not to do something; overriding that tendency is the goal of a bystander intervention.

(That’s not ALL the reasons we don’t step in; it’s just a big and especially changeable one.)

Two key ways to increase the likelihood that a bystander will do something:

(1) Minimize perceived risk by

(2) Ask bystanders to do something. Just by asking, you increase a bystander’s sense of personal responsibility and decrease the ambiguity of the situation.

And, by the way, you have all now, officially, been asked.