Bystander or lifesaver?

This activity uses a real-life example to explore the bystander effect, looking at what happens when people don't stop to help in an emergency.

Someone dials 999 into phone
Lesson plan
First aid and the bystander effect, Newsthink

In Germany, three people were fined for failing to help someone who was clearly in need of emergency assistance.

People not stepping in to help is worryingly common. People avoid getting involved for all kinds of reasons.

This activity aims to break down these barriers to helping, and inspire positive helping action and compassion.

Please note: This resource contains some sensitive content that could be upsetting and/or challenging. Please consider the experiences and backgrounds your group of young people may have when using this content; ensure there is an option to opt out, and/or speak to or signpost to someone for support if needed.


Learning objectives

Learners will:

  • explore a real-life example of the bystander effect
  • consider the impact of not helping out in an emergency
  • discuss positive actions that could be taken to help.


Resource overview

  • Class discussion
    Introduce the scenario (using images if appropriate). Invite the class to think about the possible reasons people may not help, and consider ways to overcome those barriers.


This resource was written by P J White of Alt62 and published in October 2017.

The photo of someone calling for help © Lloyd Sturdy/BRC.