Grandview Heights High School is taking a new approach in its effort to prevent bullying, date violence and sexual assault.

The Green Dot Bystander Intervention program is designed to help a witness to a violent act or someone who believes another person may be at risk to intervene, said high school English teacher Bethany Black.

Black is coordinating the school's training program with art teacher Katherine Kelsey.

"I think past programs really haven't worked because they focused on the perpetrators and victims," Black said. "Most of us won't fall into one of those categories.

"Most people want to help, but they just don't know how, or they don't feel comfortable stepping in directly," she said.

"This is a program that empowers the rest of us," Black said. "It allows anyone to be proactive."

The Green Dot program teaches students to intervene using the Three D's: direct; delegate the responsibility to others; or create a distraction to defuse a potentially dangerous situation.

"One of the things this program does is to empower all of us, even if we don't feel comfortable about getting directly involved," Black said.

Direct means a bystander gets directly involved in stopping an incident by confronting the perpetrator or assisting the victim.

"Some people might be shy and wouldn't feel comfortable stepping up directly," Black said. "That's what the other two D's are for."

A bystander also can choose to go to a third party -- perhaps a teacher, administrator, friend or family member of the victim, or a police officer -- to let them know about a potential incident, she said.

"That's delegating," Black said. "There's also distraction, which is literally creating a distraction. You believe a bad situation may be happening and you do something to interrupt things. It can be as simple as knocking something over, yelling or spilling a drink at a party."

Two training sessions for students have been held, the latest April 20.

"What we've tried to do is pick students for the training who are the leaders and influencers in every student group we could think of," Black said. "We didn't just choose the athletes or students with the best grades."

The goal will be for those students to spread the message and mission of the Green Dot Bystander Intervention to their friends and classmates throughout the school, she said.

"What we hope to see is a gradual reduction in the number of incidents in our school community as the concept spreads and takes hold," Black said.

Students participated in daylong training sessions that began with an overview of the bystander intervention strategy and how to recognize potential dangerous or harmful situations.

"We then had a discussion about what are the internal obstacles that might keep someone from intervening when they suspect someone is in a risky situation," Black said.

The day ends with students brainstorming and developing ideas for how they and others could intervene using one of the Three D's, she said.

"The last module is about building their skills and their confidence in carrying out the intervention strategy," Black said.

Junior Sophie Beacom was one of 23 students who participated in the April 20 training session.

"I think it's a really great program because it helps you understand how you can act to help someone and not just be a bystander who does nothing," Beacom said. "It's good that the focus is on the bystander and not just the person who's committing the act or their victim. It's not just telling us this type of behavior is wrong, but giving us some ideas about how we get involved to help."

In one activity, the students were divided into teams and held a relay race to brainstorm and write down potential solutions to a variety of scenarios.

The scenarios included seeing a guy leading a drunk girl to the basement at a party and a situation in which a bystander sees a guy inappropriately grab or touch a girl, but fears they may be teased if they intervene.

"I liked that exercise, because the scenarios they were presenting were realistic," Beacom said. "They're the kind of things that might happen at school or at a party."

"I really think this training is going to have a positive impact on our school," she said.

Research shows Green Dot is effective, Black said.

A study conducted by the University of Kentucky's Center for Research on Violence Against Women found schools that conducted Green Dot training saw more than a 50 percent reduction in the self-reported frequency of sexual violence committed by students and a 40 percent reduction in overall violent acts.

"We'll be monitoring our own school the rest of this year and next year to see if our training has an impact," Black said.

Later in the spring, Black said she and Kelsey will visit all senior classes to provide an overview of the bystander intervention strategy.