Peacebuilders Camp at Koinonia Farm

Don’t be a bystander!

During our discussion of the right to dignity, we seek to give campers tools with which they can disrupt injustice. What can you do when you see someone being disrespected, hurt, or oppressed?

Campers first discussed the bystander effect:

…and then they watched this video:

Then campers split into groups of four and created skits about moments when they’ve seen or experienced disrespect or injustice. Their stories included:

  • Seeing someone shoplifting
  • A young person being bullied on the school bus
  • Police hassling a person of color in a wealthy neighborhood
  • A female person of color being sexually harassed by a group of white boys

While watching the skits, campers were invited to stand up and enter the scene, trying out ways they might disrupt the situation. Approaches they experimented with included:

  • Using their voice to interrupt the situation
  • Using their phone to video an interaction
  • Sitting down next to a bullied person to be an ally
  • Standing between two people in conflict
  • Telling an offending person they are wrong

What other techniques might you use? Are there situations where it might be unsafe to intervene? Would your reaction be different if you were the only person that saw the situation? Or if you were in a huge crowd of people? Would your reaction change depending on your identity, race, or gender?

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