PAVE Peer Leaders hosted a prosocial bystander training led by Brandeis University’s Prevention and Advocacy Resource Center (PARC)

By Lauren Puglisi

What would you do if you witnessed a situation that could escalate into harassment or violence? What would you do if someone made a comment that they said was a joke, but really wasn’t?

Those were questions that the PAVE Peer Leaders of Waltham High School sought to answer when they invited educators from Brandeis University’s Prevention and Advocacy Resource Center (PARC) to lead a prosocial bystander training. The event was held after school on April 4th and was open to Waltham High School students, faculty, staff, and community partners.

Participants learned about five intervention strategies referred to as the “5 D’s” (direct, distract, delegate, distance, and document) and were able to apply their knowledge by discussing how they would respond in different scenarios, such as when a teacher makes inappropriate comments to their students or when a friend shares an embarrassing photo of another student without their permission.

They also learned about the cycle of privilege and oppression; the interaction of institutional, interpersonal, ideological, and internal factors which exercise power and control over individuals and groups. They discussed how one’s identity and the intersection of multiple identities can lead to discrimination and impact one’s likelihood of experiencing violence.

Armed with this information, students and teachers left with greater understanding about how to intervene in their community in ways that center safety, accountability, and support.