Preparing Boys for Life

Brendon Jobs presents “How to Be An Upstander: A Workshop for Helping Kids Speak Up When It Counts” for Best for Boys Speaker Series

On Dec. 7, Brendon Jobs, the Director of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion at The Haverford School, led a discussion about how to model and support boys’ development as upstanders in their communities as part of Haverford’s Best for Boys Speaker Series. 

The Speaker Series is meant to share topics and practices that help foster the social, emotional, and academic growth of young boys. During the workshop, Jobs shared personal stories from his childhood and explained that, in moments of hurt and harm, everyone has the choice to stand as barriers or act as complicit bystanders. 

“Upstanding is a process and a practice,” he said. “Often when we’re in these moments, we’re not by ourselves. Other people are bystanding, and when folks are bystanding, they are making a choice, whether or not they know it, to stay silent, and to act like they didn’t see what was happening. So upstanding contradicts that. It disrupts that. The biggest part of the practice of upstanding is knowing when you’re in a situation, you have the choice to either stand by or step up.” 

Often when we’re in these moments, we’re not by ourselves. Other people are bystanding, and when folks are bystanding, they are making a choice, whether or not they know it, to stay silent, and to act like they didn’t see what was happening. So upstanding contradicts that. It disrupts that. The biggest part of the practice of upstanding is knowing when you’re in a situation, you have the choice to either stand by or step up.

Jobs then shared some strategies for handling in-the-moment, face-to-face interactions. He also presented real-world scenarios and led participants into a discussion of how to recognize moments of hurt and harm, and how to apply upstanding behavior in such situations. 

The strategies he shared were based off a Bystander Intervention Training from the organization Hollaback!, who created what they call their “5Ds methodology”: Distract, Delegate, Document, Delay, and Direct.

Jobs shared a three-pronged process. First, notice what’s happening in these situations and access your own safety. Secondly, consider what is stopping you from engaging in stepping in for someone else, or stepping up for yourself. He talked about common reasons people may not act and acknowledged that choosing to upstand in any situation requires a certain amount of risk. The choice to take such a risk demands that we confront the range of emotions that show up in these moments. 

Third, consider one of these five possible ways of stepping in: 

  • Distract: Find an indirect way of disrupting the moment and de-escalating the situation, such as engaging the target of harassment in a different conversation with yourself. 
  • Delegate: Find someone else, perhaps in a position of authority, and ask them to intervene in the situation, on behalf of the target of harassment. Also check in with the target and see if they would like you to call anyone else. 
  • Document: After you assess that someone is helping the target of harassment, and the situation is safe for you, find a way to capture the situation on audio or video, and share your footage with them afterward. 
  • Delay: If the situation has passed, check in with the target of harassment and ask if they are okay and what they need.  
  • Direct: Once you have assessed that the situation is safe for you, speak up to the person who is harassing the target and confront them firmly and clearly. Also check in with the target and ask what they need.

Jobs also discussed how to handle situations where you may be the target. He advised in those moments to trust your instincts, “because there is no right or perfect way to handle harassment”; to reclaim your space; and to practice resilience and take care of yourself. 

When you’re trying to fit in, you’re changing your voice and narrative, trying to figure out how to be like other people, instead of belonging, which is showing up in a space, in a community, exactly as you are and growing into whatever your story is.

Jobs talked about the larger impact these upstanding behaviors can have on the overall work of diversity, equity, and inclusion. This practice is the work of allyship in a community. He argued that upstanding for yourself or others around you allows for everyone to exist in a more inclusive community because often, people make the choice to ignore, silence or evade moments of bias and harassment. Upstanding disrupts the patterns of hurt and harm that behavior can create.

“When we are looking at moments that are hard, that are about identity conflict, moments where people should be stepping in for others or stepping up for themselves, these stories happen within a system of inequality,” Jobs said. “When I think about the work of equity and inclusion, it’s the work of getting people out of the space of thinking about the point of being in community with other people as fitting in. When you’re trying to fit in, you’re changing your voice and narrative, trying to figure out how to be like other people, instead of belonging, which is showing up in a space, in a community, exactly as you are and growing into whatever your story is.”


For the full presentation from Mr. Jobs, click here to download his complete slide deck, or click here for the full recorded video