of Greater Santa Barbara


#BeUpstanding: National Girls Inc. Week May 6-10


In order for girls to fulfill their potential, they must first be safe.

For National Girls Inc. Week 2019 (May 6-10), we are highlighting how we all can play a part in tackling sexual harassment and violence by taking action to change the culture and create a safer world for girls and all young people.

Sexual harassment and violence is an epidemic that starts young. About seven in ten girls experience sexual harassment at some point in high school, and one in four girls will experience sexual violence before she turns 18. Sexual harassment and violence have a lasting impact on young people, affecting their physical and mental health as well as their ability to do well in school.

During Girls Inc. Week, we invite the community to help us highlight moments when your girls, staff, and/or community members took action to prevent sexual harassment and violence. Everyday actions – like calling out problematic language or behavior that demeans women – can have a big impact.

A bystander is someone who witnesses problematic language or behavior between people, either in person or online, and is not directly involved. A bystander can choose to do nothing or do something when they witness something concerning.

An upstander is someone who witnesses problematic language or behavior between people, either in person or online, and decides to do something about it. An upstander is a bystander who has chosen to do something. Sometimes the term “active bystander” is used to describe an upstander.

Many instances of harassment and violence occur in the presence of bystanders. Research shows that a person is less likely to intervene in an emergency situation when others are present than when they are alone. It is a natural inclination to assume that someone else will address the problem. But what if no one else does? For many upstanders, this is the question that drives them to act. And when they do, it gives others permission to do the same.

In order for a bystander to become an upstander, they need to first identify problematic language or behavior and then decide to do something about it. Often, this is as simple as listening to their “gut” instinct and noticing when something just doesn’t feel right. If a person is exerting power or control over another person in some way, is pressuring someone to do something they may not be comfortable with, or is saying things about a person online or in person that is unwelcome or inappropriate, those may be opportunities for an upstander to step up and help shift the course of the situation. In some cases there isn’t a threat of immediate violence, but the actions are meant to degrade or disempower an individual or group. When we intervene in these situations, we can help disrupt harmful attitudes and maybe even prevent sexual violence.