What is an active bystander?
A bystander is someone who witnesses or observes unacceptable behaviour. An active bystander is someone who chooses to challenge it. There are a number of ways to be an active bystander. 

You should only challenge behaviour if you feel safe to do so. If it is an emergency call 999 (or 112 from a mobile). If there is no immediate danger you can report it via Report + Support. 
What are the four D’s of being an active bystander?
Direct Action - As a bystander, you can directly intervene when you see a situation of harassment by confronting the situation head on. For example, you can ask the harasser to stop bothering the person they are targeting, or stating that you find it uncomfortable or inappropriate.

 Distraction - As a bystander can take an indirect approach to intervening. For example, if you notice someone being bullied or harassed, you can approach them ask a question such as the time or directions, or invite them to an upcoming class or meeting, thus de-escalating that situation.

Delegation -This is when you seek outside assistance to intervene in the situation. For example, a bystander can seek help or assistance from the police, a public transport worker or another party such as a line manager, personal tutor, HR or Students Unions. For example, the Students’ Union UCL will remove perpetrators from their events. 

 Delay – This is when you wait for the situation to pass and you check in with the person who was targeted to make sure they are okay. Even if you were unable to intervene at the time, checking in later makes a difference to the person who was harassed. 
Remember: The delay tactic is an important step in when witnessing any unacceptable behaviour, and is important to do to ensure the person targeted understands the support options available to them. 


If you see an incident occur and you think it is problematic, it is important that you are able to talk about it.
Talk to a friend. Talking things through with someone you trust can sometimes help. If there were other witnesses or friends present, you can speak to them. There is power in numbers. 
If you feel safe to do so, you can address the person being targeted or the problematic behaviour directly.
Things you can say to the person being targeted:
  • Can I help?
  • Can I call someone for you?
  • Can I walk you home?
  • Is everything OK?
  • Should I call security or the police?
  • Are you alright?
Things you can say to the person behaving problematically:

  • What you said earlier really bothered me...
  • I don’t like what you just did.
  • I wonder if you realise how that comes across.
  • How would you feel if someone did that to someone you care about?
You should only challenge behaviour if you feel safe to do so. If you do not and it is an emergency call 999 (or 112 from a mobile).  

Use the Report section of this platform to report bullying, harassment, or sexual misconduct you have experienced or witnessed. 

Get Support
Visit the support pages for further information on accessing support at UCL or external support agencies.


There are two ways you can tell us what happened