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Be a B.O.S.S.

 What does it mean to "Be a DU B.O.S.S."?

At DU, to be a B.O.S.S. means to be a leader on campus and to be willing to speak up and act in order to prevent violence from happening.

To be a DU B.O.S.S. is to:

Be aware,
Observe your situation,
Size up your options,
Speak up and act.

In order to be effective as a DU B.O.S.S., you must first notice an incident as needing intervention. A B.O.S.S. then assesses the situation to determine if the situation is an emergency. If the incident is interpreted as an emergency, meaning that the B.O.S.S.'s inaction could lead to negative consequences, a B.O.S.S. then assumes responsibility to do something to help. Intervention can come in a variety of forms, but the bottom line is that a B.O.S.S. makes an attempt to help.

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Tips for Intervening like a B.O.S.S.

  • Approach everyone as a friend
  • Do not be antagonistic
  • Avoid using violence
  • Be honest and direct whenever possible
  • Evaluate the situation and people involved to determine your best move. You could directly intervene yourself, or alert friends of each person to come in and help. If the person reacts badly, try a different approach.
  • Step in and separate two people. Let them know your concerns and reasons for intervening. Be a friend and let them know you are acting in their best interest. Make sure each person makes it home safely
  • Use a distraction to redirect the focus somewhere else: "Hey, I need to talk to you." or "Hey, this party is lame. Let's go somewhere else." Recruit help if necessary
  • Recruit the help of friends of both people to step in as a group.
  • Divert the attention of one person away from the other person. Have someone standing by to redirect the other person's focus.
  • Commit a party foul (e.g. spilling your drink) if you need to.
  • Keep yourself safe

Please remember that any situation that threatens physical harm to yourself or another student should be assessed carefully. Contact Dept of Campus Safety or the police, if needed, to assist you in defusing the situation.

(Taken from Hobart and William Smith Colleges)

What prevents people from being a B.O.S.S.?

Being a B.O.S.S. takes courage and there are a number of factors that prevent individuals from doing something to help. These include:

  1. Failure to notice an event (e.g. At a party or bar, I am probably too busy to be aware of whether someone is at risk for sexual assault.)
  2. Failure to identify a situation as high-risk (e.g. In a party or bar situation, I find it hard to tell whether a guy is at risk for sexually assaulting someone).
  3. Failure to take intervention responsibility (e.g. Even if I thought someone was at risk for being sexually assaulted, I would probably leave it up to others to intervene).
  4. Failure due to skills deficit (e.g. Even if I thought it was my responsibility to intervene to prevent sexual assault, I am not sure I would know how to intervene).
  5. Failure due to audience inhibition (e.g. Even if I thought it was my responsibility to intervene to prevent a sexual assault, I might not out of a concern I would look foolish).

Taken from "A Situational Model of Sexual Assault Prevention through Bystander Intervention," (Burn, 2009)

Why try to help?

While there are a number of factors that prevent people from taking action to help, inaction potentially leads to one or both parties experiencing significant emotional and physical consequences, particularly around incidents of sexual and relationship violence. You have the ability to make a difference. Educate yourself and be willing to speak up and act.

Want to learn more? Request a workshop:

Be a "B.O.S.S.": How to Harness Your Power to Prevent Violence

This workshop focuses on the issue of leadership on DU's campus and teaches practical bystander intervention skills for students to use in order to prevent violence from happening in our community. To "Be a B.O.S.S." individuals must: 1) Be aware, 2) Observe the situation, 3) Size up their options, and 4) Speak up and act. This interactive training provides participants with the tools to know when and how to "Be a B.O.S.S." and helps participants gain the confidence to take action when it is needed, particularly around the issue of preventing sexual violence.

Contact the CAPE Program Director: Dr. Gillian Kaag at gillian.kaag@hcc.du.edu