Facilitation Considerations

Length/Peer Delivery

The intended 90 minute length aligns with other post-secondary based bystander programming and it is appropriate to be delivered via peers when they have been adequately trained (Baynard et al., 2009; Mujal et al., 2019). While this workshop is informed by best available evidence, it is important to recognize that the published research does not necessarily include or represent all the diversity we find on our campuses (Evans et al., 2019; Hoxmeier et al., 2020; McMahon et al., 2020). As such, we invite and encourage you to thoughtfully tailor the message framing, scenarios, and structure to meet the needs of your audience.

The 4Ds Model

The 4 Ds model: direct, distract, delegate and delay.

This training uses the 4Ds Model of Active Bystander Intervention. There are many versions and slight adaptations to this model available online, in purchasable programs and in the academic literature. If there is an aspect of the model that seems unclear or does not appear to fit into your context, you are encouraged to explore online resources that might work better. You may also want to explore various resources prior to delivering the training to deepen your own knowledge and understanding.

Examples of resources on the 4D Model:

  • McMahon, S., Lowe Hoffman, M., McMahon, S. M., Zucker, S., & Koenick, R. A. (2013). What would you do? strategies for bystander intervention to prevent sexual violence by college students. Journal of College and Character, 14(2), 141-152. doi:10.1515/jcc-2013-0019
  • Hollaback!’s 5Ds of Bystander Intervention Training. In 2012, Hollaback! partnered with the bystander program Green Dot (who pioneered the Three D’s of bystander intervention) to develop tools to help people intervene when they see harassment happen. In 2015, they expanded 3Ds to 4Ds  to include “delay.” In 2017, they the 4Ds to 5Ds by including “document.”
  • The Four Ds of Bystander Intervention: How To Make The World A Better Place”. (online magazine article, Abbey Fox, 2013)

Intervening with online/digital violence

The need to intervene during instances of online/digital violence is increasingly common. While violence and intervening online could be a separate training on its own, it may come up in this training as well. If you have additional time you may want to explore this area with learners. The resources below may be helpful tools for expanding this training to address these issues.

Below are some considerations for specific groups of learners.

Engaging Men

Research has consistently indicated that men participating in bystander intervention training may benefit from additional support and/or alternative message framing (Katz 2018; Leone & Parrott, 2018; Reynolds-Tylus, et al., 2020). Because the topic of sexual violence can sometimes feel patronizing or identify only men as harm-doers, men can become reactant and disengage with the training. Suggestions to mitigate this include opening up and inviting discussion rather than relying solely on a lecture style, recognizing the diversity of perpetrators and victims, addressing larger social context and norms that allow people to choose violence, and encouraging the idea that everyone has a role to play in preventing violence. Facilitators with time and capacity could develop further tailored programming in this area to address the needs of learners. Engaging male allies in this work as presenters, co-facilitators and peer mentors would be valuable.


Facilitators looking to expand their knowledge and skills related to engaging men in bystander intervention training are encouraged to explore the following resources, which include facilitation manuals, publications, campaigns, and toolkits.

  • Be More Than a Bystander is a training program and suite of resources developed by Ending Violence Association of BC. In partnership with the BC Lions Football club, the program has multiple training options specifically designed to engage men. They also have video resources and guides intended for people working or learning in a trades field.
  • Courage to Act is a two-year national initiative to address and prevent gender-based violence at post-secondary institutions in Canada. Ten communities of practice have been created across the country to address important areas of work, including engaging men as allies in this work. A toolkit is expected to be released this year (2021) to support post-secondary institutions to take up this important work.
  • MVP Strategies by Jackson Katz is an American based program that was initially developed to engage men in preventing violence. He also has a popular TedTalk encouraging men to be active bystanders.
  • MANifest Change is a project of the Ottawa Coalition to End Violence Against Women that involves men and boys in preventing gender-based violence.
  • The Moose Hide Campaign is a grassroots movement of Indigenous and non-Indigenous men and boys who are standing up against violence towards women and children.
  • The White Ribbon Campaign is a global movement of men and boys working to end violence against women and girls, promote gender equity, healthy relationships and a new vision of masculinity.

International Students

International students may be at significant increased risk of being targeted for sexual violence, due to multiple barriers they face including lower levels of English language fluency, a lack of understanding of criminal law in Canada, cultural views of violence, isolation, discrimination, racism, and a need to adjust to local culture and limited local support systems (Forbes-Mewett, McCulloch 2015).  Research suggests that international students are reluctant to report sexual violence because of shame, guilt and embarrassment. Cultural norms may also hinder their ability to identify behaviors of others that may develop into situations of risk. Other factors include fear of not being believed, concerns about confidentiality and fear of retaliation by the offender. The majority of sexual assaults are committed by someone the victim knows and could include a friend, co-worker, person in authority, spouse or someone in their trusted peer group. International students face a number of transitional challenges related to adapting to the host culture leading them to turn to each other for support. Most often they form their own social network composed of other international students or former international students who share the same language and culture. Not only is there increased vulnerability for sexual violence from the larger community, international students may face sexual violence from other international students within their peer circle.

Bystander intervention will be better understood by inviting international students to safely discuss their fears, cultural expectations, unfamiliar norms, values and beliefs of the host student population and to identify concerns they may have about their safety and wellbeing.  Information about the law, consent and resources should help to reduce anxiety and increase confidence to reach out for help and access culturally and linguistically pertinent resources. All students can play a role in being an active bystander and intervening to stop an incident.

People who are LGBTQ2IA+

People in the LGBTQ2IA+ community are disproportionately targeted by perpetrators of sexual violence. Because of the lasting societal prevalence of homophobia, transphobia and queerphobia, they may be isolated from supportive networks of families and friends. Experiences with medical professionals and the criminal justice system may not offer culturally competent support or a sense of safety for queer victims of sexual violence. Likewise, victims of queer sexual violence may be reluctant to seek support or report the harm done to them (e.g., a straight, cisgender man may feel shame about being targeted by another man and choose not to seek support). Care must be taken to understand and acknowledge the intersecting oppressions faced by LGBTQ2IA+ folks of colour and those who are disabled and Indigenous. If at all possible, offer community and campus resources for queer victims of sexual violence that are culturally relevant (i.e. resources for Two Spirit people, queers of colour, disabled queers, religious queers, etc.).


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Active Bystander Intervention: Training and Facilitation Guide Copyright © 2021 by Sexual Violence Training Development Team is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

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