Bystanders of harassment learn how to turn compassion into action

YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (WYTV) – With the recent rise in hate crimes across the country, leaders from the Warren and Youngstown branches of the YWCA were inspired to team up and hold a bystander intervention training seminar for residents.

Bystander intervention is a practice that encourages people witnessing harassment to safely step in and help diffuse a tense situation.

“We see examples all over the place of people facing threats, people facing harassment and aggression based on things like their gender, their sexual identity, their race, their religion, their ethnicity,” said Advocacy Coordinator Molly Toth, with the YWCA in Warren.

The training is meant to help participants understand identity-based violence and be able to recognize it.

“It centers the person who is being targeted, so it helps the bystander meet the person’s needs and get them to safety,” Toth said.

About 100 people attended the event Wednesday night in Youngstown.

The two branches of the YWCA decided to hold this event now because of the rise in hate crimes and general intolerance toward people nationwide.

While this training can diffuse what could escalate into a tense situation, organizers say they hope it’s something none of Wednesday night’s participants ever have to use.