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View this TED Talk on violence against women and then answer the following questions:

  • What is your understanding of the “bystander” approach?
  • Explain an incident you have witnessed or participated in that demonstrates the “bystander” approach mentioned in this video.

Hello Students, after viewing the video, answer the following 2 questions using critical thinking and what you learned from the video, chapter readings, and your past experiences.

What is your understanding of the “bystander” approach?

Explain an incident you have witnessed or participated in that demonstrates the “bystander” approach mentioned in this video.

Remember to respond to 2 of your classmates with your own opinions and ideas.


A “bystander” would be defined as anyone that is an observer in a situation where a perpetrator is victimizing someone else. In the video, Katz (2012) describes bystanders as friends, teammates, colleagues, coworkers, and family members. And the bystander is a person that does not speak up and challenge the person that is doing something. Specifically, Katz talks about the sexual harassment and assault that women face at the hands of men. The “bystander approach” is a strategy to show people how to interrupt that abuse because it is unacceptable and to eventually change social norms. This is also a call for both women and men to speak out against sexual harassment. This video was eye-opening because it was made in 2012 and we are still speaking out about the same issues today (Benya, Widnall, & Johnson, 2018). Sexual harassment of women occurs everywhere to the point where many of us are desensitized to it. A common bystander approach that I’ve dealt with is learning to protect myself and my girlfriends from men at night clubs and bars. Sexual harassment is very prevalent when alcohol is involved. And rather than try to laugh it off, I’m almost always aggressive when I tell guys off for making me and my friends uncomfortable.

Benya, F. F., Widnall, S. E., & Johnson, P. A. (2018). Sexual harassment of women. Washington DC: National Academies Press.

Katz, J. (2012). Violence against women – it’s a men’s issue [Video]. TEDxFiDiWomen.


In his Ted talk on gender-based violence, Jackson Katz (2012) explains that the binary construct of men vs. women should be abandoned. While that reality does exist, the parties directly engaged in conflict are but one component of a larger cultural problem; the rest of society is also impacted. By expanding the stakeholders, he argues, it is everyone’s responsibility to intervene if they are witness to abusive behavior. Ultimately, to not do so both condones the abuse and perpetuates it.

I was bullied as a child and as a teenager; so understandably, I do no like bullies. I always stood up for myself though, and I have an immediate reaction to stand up against someone being bullied. During a course I was taking, in the middle of the instructor trying to explain a concept, a student from the back of the class began to yell that he did not understand. The instructor, who was very kind and patient, started explaining the concept again from the beginning. The student, now more agitated, said he still did not understand. He had a history of being disruptive and hostile during class and when the instructor again tried to ascertain which part he was having trouble with, he threw up his hands in exasperation and implied it was her fault, that she could not explain it well. That is when I stepped in and told him to his face that he was being rude; that she had tried to help him repeatedly, and he only seemed to want to criticize the teacher and not actually get any help. He never made another disruptive outburst in class again.

As Katz suggested, I did not need to be a part of their exchange to be impacted by it. Saying nothing, aside from the uncomfortable feelings, would encourage it to continue or recur. By speaking up could people can actively join the fight against abuse as allies. I did not think he would have behaved in a similar manner if the instructor had been a man. He saw someone he thought he could intimidate and that is what all bullies do: look for people they think are weaker than them. In fact, I think it was only partially a question of gender. Koppelman (2020) makes a similar point when he describes sexual harassment not being about sex, but power. As soon as I raised my voice in opposition to unacceptable behavior the power dynamics of the situation shifted – that’s the power the bystander possesses.

Katz, J. (2012). Violence against women – it’s a men’s issue [Video]. TED.

Koppelman, K. L. (2020). Understanding human differences: multicultural education for a diverse America (6th ed.). Hoboken, NJ: Pearson Education.

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