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The 4Ds

We know how difficult it can be to step in. That’s why we’ve adopted the 4Ds. This simple methodology provides memorable tactics for interrupting a situation. It doesn’t take a heroic act to make a difference, sometimes all it takes is simplicity, subtlety, and a little bit of creativity to drastically change the outcome of a situation.


Directly interact with the people involved in the situation, and express that you are concerned. Examples include: 

  • Ask “Are you OK?”
  • Say to the person who needs help: “I’m worried about you, can I help you find your friends?”
  • Say to the other person: “Why don’t you get their number and call them tomorrow.”


Distract the people involved by diverting their attention to something else without acknowledging you are concerned. Use the distraction to covertly defuse the situation. Examples include:

  • Stick around and don’t leave the two individuals alone.
  • Tell the person who needs help that their friends are looking for them.
  • Offer to do something with one of the people, like dance or go outside for air.


Delaying the conversation to a later time when they are more willing to accept the interaction.


Delegate your responsibility to intervene in a concerning situation by notifying someone who is better equipped to handle that particular situation. If you ever feel unsafe, always delegate. Examples include:

  • Tell a Resident Assistant (RA).
  • Talk to the friends of the student who needs help. Ask them to check in with their friend and get them home safely.
  • Call the police.

Proactive & Reactive Responses

There are two basic responses that bystanders can provide in any given situation: reactive response or proactive response.

proactive response involves making small choices that deter an incident from happening in the first place.

However, we cannot see the future. We sometimes find ourselves thrown into a quickly-escalating situation that demands a swift and decisive reactive response.

Sometimes these situations can be scary and high-risk, and sometimes they just feel awkward or confusing. The choices we make at these times have a greater impact. The 4Ds guide you towards reactive responses that are safe, effective, and simple enough to recall and prompt action in these kinds of circumstances.