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About Step Up

Step Up Pepperdine is a bystander intervention program and university-wide initiative that educates members of the Pepperdine community to be proactive in helping each other. The program teaches:


The goals of the Step Up Pepperdine program are to:

  1. Raise awareness of helping behaviors
  2. Increase motivation to help others
  3. Learn strategies for effective helping
  4. Develop skills and confidence when responding to problems and concerns
  5. Ensure the safety and well-being of self and others


Step Up Pepperdine provides members of the Pepperdine community with the knowledge and tools necessary to intervene during problematic situations involving academic misconduct, alcohol abuse, depression, hazing, relationship abuse, and sexual assault. If you witness one of these situations and don't know what to do, remember to use the 5 decision making steps.


5 Decision Making Steps

1. Notice the event

Be aware of your surroundings.


2. Interpret the Event as a Problem

Sometimes it can be difficult to determine if someone is in need of help. If a situation seems unclear, assume there is a problem. Be cautious and ensure your safety when investigating the situation. Be mindful of peer pressure and be prepared to react to it. Ask other people what they think about the situation. If you are a victim, let other people know there is a problem by being as specific as possible. Refer to others directly by acknowledging an aspect of the individual that will let the other person know you are talking to them (e.g. the color of their shirt).


3. Assume Personal Responsibility

Don't assume that someone else will do something in the situation. People are less likely to intervene if they are in a large crowd. Take personal responsibility to act in the situation. Publically expressing your intentions to help will encourage yourself to be more likely to help in the situation. Enlist the help of others and assign tasks to everyone involved.


4. Know How to Help

People often want to help in situations, but they either don't know what to do (knowledge) in a particular situation or how to do it (skills). In order to ensure people's safety while helping in situations, the Step Up Pepperdine program encourages members of the Pepperdine community to use the S.E.E. model.

Safe Responding

Deciding a course of action that ensures the safety of those involved and avoid putting yourself in a dangerous situation.

Early Intervention

Intervening early can prevent the situation from escalating into a crisis.

Effective Helping

Knowing what you can do to help and how to do it.


Certain situations may require more immediate action to be taken than others. Carefully assess the entire situation before considering the most effective intervention method that can be applied to the situation. Determine whether the situation requires emergency or non-emergency helping.

Emergency Helping

When faced with an emergency situation, remember to:

  • Calm the person
  • Gather information: Who (person/s), What (content), When (timing), Where(location/privacy), Why (reasons), and How (tone)
  • Consider your options: Interventions may require action that is Direct (You take responsibility as the primary helper.) or Indirect (You request that someone else take responsibility as the primary helper, such as the Police, Emergency Medical Trained or EMT personnel, Athletic Administrators, etc.)
  • Provide support but do not become overly involved
  • Gather information: Who (person/s), What (content), When (timing), Where (location/privacy), Why (reasons), and How (tone)

Non-emergency Helping

  • Consider frequency, duration, and severity
  • Define the problem and the barriers to resolving the problem
  • Determine the goal and develop a game plan
  • Set boundaries for your involvement in the situation
  • Consider your options and know appropriate contact information for services that can provide additional assistance (e.g. Residence Hall Advisors, Public Safety,Counseling Center, etc.)

5. Implement the Help and Step Up!

Carefully consider the situation before taking any action. Be the first to act, since others are often looking for other people to take the lead. Create shared and agreed upon standards of behavior and expectations within any group or organization. To effectively step up, use one of the 3Ds:

  1. Direct: Be direct and purposeful with your action. Asking the individual if they need help is a way to show you care about their safety.
  2. Distract: Creating a distraction can reduce the tension of the situation
  3. Delegate: Assign intervention tasks to yourself and others. If you are overwhelmed by a situation, you can always find someone in authority to address the situation by calling the Police or Public Safety.


Factors That Affect Helping

What interferes with stepping up?

Diffusion of Responsibility

Research shows that people are less likely to respond to problematic situations when there are more people around. Everyone thinks someone else will do something, so no one does anything. Once one person "breaks the norm," and steps up to do something different, others will tend to follow.

Obedience to Authority/Perceived Authority

An individual's lack of awareness for his or her tendency to conform to perceived authority (e.g., fraternity leadership during hazing) prevents individuals from stepping up. It is important to always do the right thing in spite of "authority" directing you in another way.


What helps people step up?

Making Value Based Decisions

  • People tend to make decisions based on their values, beliefs, and past life experiences. Help others by encouraging them to stop and think about what they are doing and the negative consequences of their decisions. Make sure to emphasize that the momentary rewards of the situation are not worth the long-term costs that may result. Encourage the individual you are helping to ask themselves: What is the right thing to do in this?

Perspective Taking

  • Attempting to understand a situation from another person's point of view can encourage an individual to step up. Perspective taking involves imagining how the person thinks and feels, imagining being in the same situation, and imagining that you are the other person. It is important to consider: If you or someone you love were in a potentially harmful or dangerous situation, what would you want someone to do for you?


The University of Arizona C.A.T.S. Life Skills Program, along with the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) and national leading experts, has developed Step UP! Be a Leader, Make a Difference.