A 21st Century Resource Center

The Mercer County Holocaust-Genocide Resource Center is located on the West Windsor, NJ, campus of Mercer County Community College. We are dedicated to providing the most current resources on Holocaust and genocide education for the 21st Century classroom. Learn more about us at

Friday, October 12, 2012

Learning to be an Upstander

On Thursday, October 11, MCHGRC welcomed a group of MCCC students to the inaugural session of Upstander Training using the curriculum OUCH! Your Silence Hurts.

"Many people say they want to speak up when they see others stereotyped, disrespected, or demeaned, but they stand by silently because of discomfort or the fear of saying the wrong thing. They turn away thinking, “who am I to get involved, this isn't my business.” But as a bystander, you ARE part of the conversation. You are the audience. Your silence allows the disrespectful behavior to continue. Your silence hurts."

Attendees began by identifying their motivation for being an upstander and then analyzed the reasons why people often choose to remain a bystander in the face of the negative behavior that is a result of prejudice, bias, and sterotyping.  The number one reason: Most people believe they lack the authority to stand up to negative behavior.  In fact, they often fear the bully and repercussions of standing up to the arbiter of negativity.

The discussion revealed that being an upstander is a choice.  The authority to make that choice rests with each individual - and when an individual chooses not to be an upstander, they effectively give authority to the bully committing the offense. 

One technique for diffusing volatile situations was that of re-direction: Re-directing the focus of the discussion off of the argument.  Another technique was to respond to negativity with positivity, thereby raising the level of the conversation in general.

Future sessions will continue to discuss effective ways to be an upstander in real life situations.  For more information, contact Center Co-Director, Professor Elizabeth DeGiorgio, at .

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