Health Promotion and Wellness Services creates new initiative and teaches staff at local restaurants and bars in bystander intervention skills
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To help reduce harassment, violence, and alcohol-related incidents among students at Auburn University, Health Promotion and Wellness Services has created a new initiative, Raise the Bar, to teach bystander intervention techniques to local restaurant and bar staff.
According to Shelby Flores, alcohol and drug prevention coordinator for Health Promotion and Wellness Services, the program helps participants learn to recognize behaviors of concern, gain the confidence to intervene, and to provide support to customers in potentially dangerous situations.
“We know that bystander engagement can be an important tool in preventing alcohol-related harm and sexual violence,” Flores said. “This is because bystander intervention diverts attention from individuals who are harmful or experiencing harm and places the blame on the community as a whole. On campus, we facilitate these conversations through our Green Dot program. Through Raise the Bar, we are able to facilitate conversations about spectator intervention with a targeted audience – local Auburn businesses.
Like Raise the Bar, the Green Dot program also focuses on the viewer’s actions and equips them to act and intervene in potentially dangerous situations.
According to Flores, the Green Dot program uses the “three Ds” to describe different spectator intervention strategies: directing, delegating and distracting.
“With Raise the Bar training, we’ve actually introduced a fourth ‘D’ to represent ‘defend’ and encourage bar staff to step in and support passers-by, who may already be stepping in or helping in a particular situation,” said Flores said. “We feel like this addition of a fourth ‘D’ allows us to complete Green Dot training on the Auburn campus. We know students may already be stepping in to help a friend, and we want to empower bar staff to support those spectators, in addition to being a spectator and using the other three Ds as needed.
While introducing and promoting Raise the Bar to local businesses, Flores and Student Government Association representative Emmie Bruderer meet with staff members to discuss program goals, statistics, resources, and when and how to intervene.
Additionally, Flores and Bruderer present examples of past interventions and guide participants through practice scenarios.
Another concept covered during the Raise the Bar training, angel shots are used in bars and restaurants across the country and around the world.
“Angel shots are not an actual drink that a person can order,” Flores said. “It’s more of a code that will discreetly let the bartender know you need help. Through Raise the Bar, we are trying to standardize the use of angel shots across all participating institutions to ensure that local students and institutions use similar language, per se.
Depending on the angel call requested, individuals can signal servers to call a taxi or ride-sharing service, assist them by escorting them to their ride, or call the police.
Flores said there were concerns that if news of the angel shootings were widely publicized, potential perpetrators might become aware of the purpose and significance.
“While we recognize that this concern is valid, we also know that if individuals are unaware of the purpose of angel shots, it is not a tool they can use if they need help. ‘help,’ Flores said. “Angel injections are not the magic bullet to prevent alcohol-related harm and violence in our community, but it is one of many tools that individuals can use if they need help. assistance.”
To date, 17-16, Skybar Café and Southeastern have trained staff to participate in Raise the Bar.
Resource sheets are available in all these establishments for customers and staff members to consult at the checkouts and reception areas.
As the program grows, Flores said participating businesses will receive signage to display on storefronts so community members know that staff have participated in Raise the Bar training.
“Auburn is an incredibly unique place in that our campus and our community are so closely connected – our local institutions have strong relationships with our campus units and vice versa,” Flores said. “The Raise the Bar program leverages the strength of these relationships to create a safe campus-community environment for all.”
More information about Raise the Bar for clients and business owners can be found on the Health and Wellness Services website.