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Let's Get Grounded: Recognize, React, RespectStep Up!

As part of U.Va.'s student-initiated Get Grounded! Campaign to promote bystander intervention, the Step Up! training was adapted by student leaders, the Gordie Center for Alcohol and Substance Education (Gordie CASE) and the U.Va. Athletecs Department's Life Skills Center to be more inclusive of non-student-athlete student populations.

In 2007, Becky Bell, Associate Athletics Director at The University of Arizona, worked with the NCAA to implement a survey at three universities (University of Arizona, University of California, Riverside and University of Virginia) that revealed that student-athletes are encountering multiple situations where bystander intervention would be appropriate including alcohol abuse, hazing, dating violence, sexual assault and discrimination.

Almost 90% of student-athletes stated a problem could have been avoided with intervention and up to 85% of the student-athletes indicated they would like to learn skills to intervene.


Step Up!

Many people have been in a problematic situations where they could have intervened but didn't. Later on, they can be troubled by their lack of action and may wonder, "If only I would have….done something, said something, talked to someone….there may have been a different outcome."



Although much research exists on bystander behavior in general, there was not an interdisciplinary, bystander intervention program tailored for the student-athlete experience and building on the positive aspects of team membership. Ms. Bell developed the Step Up! program to fill this gap. In 2008, the NCAA sent Step Up! training materials to all CHAMPS/Life Skills Coordinators.

The STEP UP! program is designed to help students learn strategies and techniques to intervene both directly and indirectly in both emergency and non-emergency situations. The program contains support materials to address a wide-range of issues including academic integrity, alcohol abuse, anger, depression, discrimination, disordered eating, gambling, hazing, relationship abuse and sexual assault. The training provides a framework for engaging students to become active bystanders by:

  • explaining the bystander effect,
  • reviewing relevant research and
  • teaching skills for intervening successfully using:
    • the 5 Decision Making Steps and
    • the S.E.E. Model (Safe; Early; Effective).