Green Dot Strategy

The Green Dot Strategy is a comprehensive approach to violence prevention that capitalizes on the power of peer and cultural influence across all levels of the socio-ecological model.  Informed by social change theory, the model targets all community members as potential bystanders, and seeks to engage them, through awareness, education and skills-practice, in proactive behaviors that establish intolerance of violence as the norm, as well as reactive interventions in high-risk situations – resulting in the ultimate reduction of violence. Specifically, the program targets influential individuals from across community subgroups. The goal is for these groups to engage in a basic education program that will equip them to integrate moments of prevention within existing relationships and daily activities – both personal and professional. By doing so, new norms will be introduced and those within their sphere of influence will be significantly influenced to move from passive agreement that violence is wrong, to active intervention.

In recognition of the necessity of a multi-faceted approach to violence prevention, Green Dot expands the traditional approach to bystander intervention beyond reactively addressing imminently high risk situations on an individual basis, to proactively engaging bystanders with access to all levels of the social ecology. The reality is, even if an individual never personally witnesses a high risk situation, we are all bystanders to the reality that too many women, men and children are victims of power-based personal violence in our communities. Therefore, Green Dot is designed as a community mobilization strategy that provides a framework and common language to engage the broader bystander community in making changes across the social ecology – including not only intervention in high risk situations, but also improving response systems, shifting norms of inaction and strengthening policy and enforcement.

Conceptually, Green Dot is comprised of three basic components:

  • A single choice in one moment in time to use your voice, actions or choices to make one small corner of the world safer.

Green Dot is built on the premise that in order to measurably reduce the perpetration of power-based personal violence, a cultural shift is necessary. In order to create a cultural shift, a critical mass of people will need to engage in a new behavior or set of behaviors that will make violence less sustainable within any given community. The “new behavior” is a Green Dot.  A shared vision that creates momentum through the power of a common language and purpose.

  • In isolation, even the most determined single Green Dot can dissolve into silent resignation when faced with a task as daunting as changing our culture.

The power of Green Dot is the momentum that can be created and sustained when individuals see themselves in connection with others as a part of something ultimately bigger than the sum of its parts.

  • A social movement that harnesses the power of peer influence and individual bystander choices to create lasting culture change resulting in the ultimate reduction of power-based personal violence.

Power-based personal violence happens to such a staggering degree that the only workable solution must involve a broad-based, good ole’ fashioned social movement. Each significant stride in human rights has been fueled by and built upon a social movement. Enough individuals simply raising their voices saying, “This is no longer acceptable. Today is the day we reclaim our fundamental right to something better.” One Green Dot at a time, this is our moment in history to reclaim our right to live free of violence and fear of violence.

Red Dots

At the surface, power-based personal violence can seem like an abstract concept. For some, acts like stalking, dating violence, sexual assault, and rape happen in movies or in faraway places on the news. But for others, these are acts of violence that have affected friends, family, or themselves.

Fundamentally, violence in our community is a collection of individual choices to do harm. And each choice to do harm is a red dot on our campus map. A red dot is a moment in time where someone’s words, choices, or actions contribute to or tolerate violence in some way. Even when a bystander witnesses a situation of potential violence, but walks away and does nothing — that moment of inaction is a red dot.

Green Dots

Violence prevention must mirror the problem of violence. In the same way that violence is a collection of individual choices to do harm, we can make an army of individual choices to step in, to intervene, to say “no.” Every choice to intervene is a green dot. Any act or any statement that expresses an intolerance of violence is yet another green dot.

So keep watch. If you see a situation of potential violence,  try this:


Maybe you feel comfortable handling a red dot situation directly. Maybe you can tell your friend, “I think she’s too drunk to go upstairs with you” or tell your roommate, “You promised we’d stick together tonight.”
Maybe you are shy. Maybe you don’t want to look like a tool. Get someone to intervene. Find her friends. Get his roommate. Get an RA. Make an anonymous call to the University Police Department. Talk to someone who can step in and help.
Create a diversion that interrupts a choice to do a red dot. Shout, “Hey, don’t you want to play XBOX?” Or, “Hey, your car is getting towed!”

It doesn’t matter which green dot you do. The most important thing is that you think of green dots that feel realistic in your life.

(c) 2014, Dorothy J. Edwards, Ph.D. – used with permission