Active Bystander Training at Gould

January 22, 2019
Active Bystander

Students and faculty break into smaller groups to grapple with tough questions during Active Bystander training.

Each year Gould utilizes Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Day as an opportunity to have a “day on,” while students learn about the importance of giving back through local community service projects. This year, the student-run Civil Rights Team had a new plan.

Active Bystander Training

Ninth and tenth graders continued to participate in community service projects with nonprofit groups like the Good Shepherd Food Bank and Partners for World Health, while eleventh and twelfth graders remained on campus to engage in active bystander training with the help of Prevention. Action. Change., a group based in Portland, Maine with the intention of creating a safer, more welcoming environment for all students.

“Our work here today is teaching active bystander skills,” says Clara Porter MSW, program director at Prevention. Action. Change, “which raises awareness around what different students are targeted for identity-based harassment…and then practically, what students can actively do to step in and create change.”


I took away a lot of ways to confront situations that make me uncomfortable in a way that’s still productive, in a way that focuses on helping the person that’s being targeted.”

– Anna Clare Miller ’19, Gould Civil Rights Team


active bystander

Students and faculty look on during group discussion.

Active Bystander training isn’t about asking students to put themselves in harms way. It’s about giving them the language and tactics that can help identify and diffuse dangerous situations before they escalate and get out of control. Civil Rights Team member Anna Clare Miller ’19 stressed the importance of the workshops and remarked on the new skillset she was introduced to. “I took away a lot of ways to confront situations that make me uncomfortable in a way that’s still productive, in a way that focuses on helping the person that’s being targeted.”

At the end of the day, a lot of the training is about raising awareness. Asking students to be mindful of what they say, and how it can be perceived. Gould pride’s itself on being a supportive, inclusive, and safe community for everyone, but we know there is always work to be done, and we can always do better. Anna Clare sums up the day by adding that “using these tools to confront people makes the whole campus, and the whole environment here at Gould more comfortable for everyone.”

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