Visit Merseyside Youth AssociationMYA

Merseyside Youth Association

Explaining the bystander approach

Throughout the MVP programme, a bystander is described as a friend, teammate or classmate – in other words, it is someone they know. The bystander approach aims to create a positive culture in our schools and communities, where abuse and violence are recognised and viewed as unacceptable. In part, this is done by questioning social norms and pluralistic ignorance, and reassuring young people that the majority of their peers hold similar healthy views on abuse and violence. This helps to realign beliefs and create safe, healthy and inclusive learning environments where all of our young people can flourish, lead and attain.

By using this approach, MVP can engage all young people in discussions about abuse and violence, not as a potential perpetrator or victim, but as an empowered bystander with the skills and understanding to challenge negative behaviour and support victims.

The structured discussion-based sessions focus on both increasing a person’s understanding of the issues covered, and on developing their skills to identify healthy and unhealthy behaviours within their peer and intimate relationships. Moreover, they will be equipped with a skillset of potential safe ‘interventions’ where they encounter unhealthy behaviours. This problem-solving approach can be transferred to other areas of their lives where they face challenges.

There are four stages of the bystander approach

  • Notice

    Something is happening

  • Recognise

    There is something wrong

  • Decide

    They have a personal responsibility to intervene.

  • Have

    The skills and confidence to act.